If you’re a firefighter or first responder you’ve probably been in a situation where you were surrounded by smoke and couldn’t see anything or anyone around you. Have you ever wished you had an extra set of eyes in situations like this? The FLIR K1 can be a life saving device.
The FLIR K1 is a compact thermal camera that will help you see in dangerous, unclear conditions to help you locate your team mates, fire sources, and people who may need to be rescued. FLIR has branded this thermal camera as their "Situational Awareness Camera" and is similar to their K2 model however the K1 is not intended to be taken directly into the fire as the K2 is.
How Thermal Imaging Technology is Used in Fire Fighting
FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radar) assists firefighters in difficult situations such as seeing in dark or smoky conditions.
Let’s have a look at how thermal technology can benefit firefighters:
- Collects data: Reflection and flash lights are used to lighten a specific scene. Videos, images or data can be collected from the area.
- Translates data: The FLIR K1 translates the energy it measures into data that can easily be reviewed for use in investigations.
- Protection: Entering dangerous areas with thermal imaging technology protects your crew and prevents unwanted accidents as you can view anything, anywhere in a full 360ﹾ area.
- Portable: Hand held devices such as the K1 can be taken with you on any mission.
- Durable: These devices are made to withstand the toughest weather and extreme environments.
K1 - New Compact Thermal Imager for Firefighters and First Responders Announced
Thermal imaging technology has been around for some time. It’s used by first responders to view the area they have been called to work in when there is an accident or fire. These devices used to be big and expensive & could only be used in certain applications such as on helicopters. An all new, compact, affordable and easily accessible thermal imager has now been launched. This means it’ll be easier for any first responder to enter a hazardous area with more knowledge of exactly what is happening even is there is no visibility with the naked eye.
The FLIR K1 has a simple pistol grip handle and stores more than 10 000 images. The images can be used to assess and investigate a scenario & make reporting after the fact much easier.
The K1 thermal imager is designed to be a user-friendly device:
- Lightweight: The imager is compact and small
- Easy to hold handle: The handle is long and allows for easy gripping even with thick gloves
- Wear & tear: The imager can withstand harsh environments and is very durable being able to be dropped up to 2 meters without damage
- Water safe: The K1 imager is waterproof to ensure effective use in any weather conditions
- Camera storage: The imager can take up to 10 000 images that can be stored and viewed
- Built-in flashlight: the 300 lumen flashlight can further improve visibility in dark areas
The K1 imager has some state-of-the-art specs making it a one of a kind device, especially at this price point. Let’s have a look at some of these specs.
The IR resolution of the K1 is 160 x 120 pixels with 57° × 44° field of view. The thermal energy can be detected in the 8-13 µm spectrum.
Visual Digital Camera and Media Storage:
The digital camera offers 320 x 240 pixels resolution with a 1.9mm focal length. Up to 10,000 can be stored on internal memory.
Display and color palettes:
FLIR K1 features a 2.4" display with 320 x 240 resolution. You may select from 3 color palettes: T1 Basic (white-hot with isotherm), White-hot and Iron.
The battery must charge for 6 hours to reach 100%. It’ll operate for up to 5.5 hours in MSX mode or alternatively 3.8 hours when using the build in flashlight. The battery type is a Li ion and it’s a 3.7 voltage battery.
FLIR K1 vs K2
160 × 120
160 × 120
57° × 44°
47° × 35°
320 × 240
640 × 480
Object Temperature Range
14°F - 752°F
-4°F - 932°F
Operating Temp Range
up to 500°F for 3 min.
Up to 10,000 images
Up to 5.5 hours
Up to 4 hours
Knowing all the different products available is the first step when investing in a thermal imager. Let’s look at some of the differences and similarities between the FLIR K1 & the FLIR K2.
The FLIR K1 is an affordable option and can be purchased for under $1000. This smart design is lightweight, weighing only 0.41kg including the battery. It’s compact and the battery takes 4 hours to reach a 90% battery life. Operating time ranges from 3.8-5.5 hours.
The camera is quite impressive with a focal length of 1.9mm and thermal resolution of 160 × 120.
Although the K2 costs more than the K1 it’s also affordable & available for under $1,400. It’s light and small in size weighing a mere 0.7kg. The biggest differences are the lack of image storage and the much higher operating temperature of the K2 of up to 500ﹾF.
The measurements of the K2 are 9.8” x 4.1” x 3.5”. Charging time for the battery is only 2.5 hours to reach 90% making it quick and effective. It’ll give you 4 hours to operate at 95ﹾF.
A big plus the K2 offers is the heat detection mode. While the thermal resolution is the same as FLIR K1, the digital camera in K2 is upgraded to 640 x 480 pixels.
The K2 however doesn’t have any internal memory to store JPEG images.
Both devices are fairly affordable and lightweight. The FLIR K1 takes the win when it comes to the storage of pictures. The K1 has an internal storage memory for JPEGs and other files whilst the K2 doesn’t provide any built in memory. Being able to save images from a scene for analysis later can be very important.
One other very important distinction of the K2 is that it is designed to work in much higher heat environments being able to function for 10 minutes at 302ﹾF and 5 minutes at 500ﹾF making it better suited for actual use by fire fighters when moving through a burning structure.
The K2’s charging time is half the time of the K1 and operating hours are more or less the same. Heat detection is a big advantage with the K2 model.
Either one of these devices will be able to take a 2 meter drop and do a proper job at scanning a room with low visibility conditions. The major differences therefore lie in the memory and detection features.
Being a first responder can be a stressful and dangerous job description. The most challenging part of this job is to step into an unknown situation. First responders such as firefighters need a sixth sense to survive and potentially rescue people. There’s in our opinion no better way to be prepared for what’s on the other side of the smoke than to have the FLIR K1 by your side or a FLIR K2 when going directly into the fire.