Sometimes a product comes along that disrupts the market, taking quality, ease-of-use and reliability to new levels
In March 2013, FLIR (now Teledyne FLIR) released the first models in its K-series thermal imaging cameras for firefighting applications. A decade down the line, the ground-breaking K-series remains the market leader in firefighting applications, allowing crews to visualise a plan of attack, locate hot spots and save lives – in ultra-quick time.
The origins of Teledyne FLIR date back to 1978 with the formation of FLIR Systems and the development of high-performance, low-cost infrared (thermal) imaging systems for airborne applications. Following distinguished success in numerous market sectors, FLIR entered the firefighting arena in 2013 with the launch of the K-series cameras.
Jason Messerschmidt, Senior Director of Sales US at Teledyne FLIR, says:
“Being a volunteer fireman and involved in the fire service for over 25 years, it has been fulfilling from both a business and personal standpoint to be part of Teledyne FLIR’s 10-year journey and bring thermal imaging technology to more and more firefighters. Our ability to provide top of the line products offering advanced technology at competitive prices has undoubtedly enhanced the fire service and saved the lives of both crew members and those trapped by fire.”
The firefighting success story began with the launch of the K40 and K50 thermal imaging cameras in the spring of 2013. In essence, the idea was to provide firefighters with a tool they could rely on to both protect the lives of crew and save the lives of others. Displaying different colour modes for every situation, the K40 and K50 models met a number of key market criteria, including affordability, dependability and ease-of-use. Furthermore, the devices displayed clear thermal images and produced simple reports.
Buoyed by the initial success and uptake of the K40 and K50, FLIR set about expanding the range. In January 2015, at the Intersec exhibition for fire protection technologies in Dubai the company released its K45 and K55 models with enhanced field-of-view and thermal sensitivity. Next to join the line up in June 2015 were the K2 and K65 thermal imaging cameras, with a public unveiling at the Interschutz exhibition in Hanover.
The FLIR K2 combines capability, ruggedness and reliability in an affordable package. With features such as Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging (MSX®), easy-to-use buttons and operability in temperatures up to 260°C, the K2 is a small investment that pays big dividends, saving lives, protecting property and ensuring firefighter safety.
FLIR’s K65 is the advanced, feature-rich thermal imaging camera required when NFPA® compliance is a must. With fully sealed connectors and a secured battery, the K65 is fully compliant with the NFPA 1801-2021 standard for thermal imaging cameras covering usability, image quality and durability in firefighting tasks.
With the release of four models in 2015 – K45, K55, K2 and K65 – and initial demand proving high, FLIR felt it an opportune moment to discontinue the original K40 and K50 models, especially as yet more K-series thermal imaging cameras were already in development and nearing release.
The concept behind the K33 was to provide an economical, easy-to-use option that did not sacrifice clarity or performance. This impressive thermal imaging camera features FSX™ Flexible Scene Enhancement, which intensifies structural and textural details in thermal images. The augmented perspective and orientation help improve situational awareness and give firefighters a greater sense of confidence and safety. In comparable terms, the K53 offers the same clarity and performance, but with enhancements such as greater IR resolution and thermal sensitivity.
FLIR’s most recent addition to its K-series arrived in April 2019 with another grand unveiling at FDIC. Taking the number of available K-series cameras to seven, the K1 situational awareness camera is a rugged, compact thermal device that serves as an extra set of eyes on the fire scene, allowing commanders, officers and inspectors to complete a rapid yet thorough 360° assessment in total darkness and through smoke. With a bright, integrated flashlight, the FLIR K1 illuminates the scene to help users guide and manage crew members more effectively.
Peter Dekkers, Global Business Development Manager - FIRE at Teledyne FLIR, says: “Ten years ago, the market for thermal imagers for firefighting was somehow static: little innovation, clumsy design, battery challenges, blurry images and so on. Moreover, the hefty price tag didn’t support broader adoption among firefighters worldwide. So we took a huge risk by investing in this market, which was – at a first glance - not particularly dynamic. However, we love a challenge and decided to use our in-house industrial and defense expertise in addressing the Fire market. With the introduction of our K-Series we set a new standard with superb image quality, ease of use, robustness and reliability. All at a much friendlier price point to not only benefit smaller city or volunteer departments, but also metropolitan departments scaling up their ability to use thermal imaging.”
He continues: “Of course, with broader use comes higher expectations. We therefore keep investing in our solutions, where continuous focus on ergonomics and a super clear image generates trust in reading fires correctly.”
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