THERMAL imaging cameras designed to help rescuers find survivors in a burning building have been used to speed up the firefighting process in Tasmania.
Helicopters equipped with the heat-sensitive cameras are flown over the bushfire area, allowing operators to mark out areas of increased fire activity.
Tasmania Fire Service district officer Steven Richardson said the cameras had long been used to search for people who might be trapped, but technological developments in the past five years saw them adopted for use in analysing vegetation fires.
"We can fly slowly over the fires and see the fire activity through the smoke," Mr Richardson said.
"You can see where the edge of the fire is and see where those hotspots are that are still really burning and have the potential to throw up a lot of sparks. And we can pinpoint that on the GPS and then come back and download the co- ordinates and send crews directly to that spot."
Mr Richardson said the cameras took a lot of legwork out of the blacking-out process.
"Ten years ago, we would send crews out and they would have to physically travel along the fire looking for hotspots," he said.
And with fire perimeters stretching hundreds of kilometres - the perimeter of the Forcett fire alone is 230 kilometres - that process could take weeks.
Mr Richardson said the cameras could look for a specific temperature range, like human body heat.
Newer models are more sensitive, smaller and able to operate in low light - making them ideal for helicopter work.