Generally, fires don't kill you. By the time it gets that hot, people have usually long since died of oxygen deprivation. The smoke is the killer. During the time lives are still saveable, smoke will often render the area visibility to near zero. Firefighters have several thousand dollars worth of very specialized equipment that allow them to carry out operations in these environments with moderate risk to themselves. But it's a difficult task, and we train to work in blackout conditions, strictly by feel. It takes a pretty fair amount of time to clear a structure like that, and meanwhile any casualties are slowly dying of oxygen deprivation. Speed is of the essence, and it also reduces the danger to the firefighters.
A thermal imaging system allows the firefighter to "see" through the smoke, quickly gain situational awareness, and execute a rescue far faster. It's a great tool. But it's also very expensive. That's what this project envisions rectifying.
The target price point of 600NZD makes it affordable to virtually any fire brigade/department anywhere. And it can be an invaluable tool to enable firefighters to save lives and increase their own safety while doing it. Keeping it an open source project also allows ongoing development. The initial goal is a working prototype allowing simple heads up thermal imaging. But I envision a modular approach, wherein sensors can be added. Heat, gas, what else can a USB dongle sense that may be good to know? Other firefighters will think of it. Mesh networking (like other projects have done). Wifi link outside, allowing the officer-in-charge to observe inside activity. The potential options are endless. And that's the idea. Make a tool by firefighters, for firefighters. And make it cheap and cheerful.
Not sure where we put licensing info as requested by hackaday rules? Main one is Rasbian, which as a Debian fork will be a combo of BSD and GPL. Also there's the Pure Engineering Lepton code, which is a typical OSS, as long as attribution etc is included. Here's the text: https://github.com/PureEngineering/LeptonModule/blob/master/LICENSE