Life Saving Thermal Cameras Help Firefighters See Clearly
● By Alesha Damerville
Image and article from the City of Steamboat
“It’s truly amazing how Colorado fire agencies work closely together to make every community safer,” said Captain Scott Hetrick with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue. “South Metro’s donation is a great example of neighbors helping neighbors, even though they may live more than 165 miles apart. This donation will not only better the safety of our firefighters but the community that we serve.”
SSFR currently utilizes two older thermal cameras in its arsenal. Through this donation, the department will triple the cameras available to firefighters. Captain Hetrick accepted the generous donation earlier this week from Battalion Chief Tom Meigel and plans to put the new cameras into service immediately.
TIC’s have the potential to increase the safety of residents, visitors and firefighters in the event of a structure fire as well as assist in other low visibility situations. TIC’s are thermographic cameras that process infrared radiation as visible light allowing firefighters to see through smoke and locate heat signatures.
For example, in dense smoke with zero visibility, firefighters with these cameras can easily navigate through an unfamiliar home or building layout, quickly identify people and pets lost in the smoke, and clearly identify where the fire is located when flames may not be visible. Without this technology, firefighters are forced to crawl in the darkness while feeling for victims and heat, which is much more dangerous and slower process when time is of the essence.
In addition, TIC’s are very helpful at nighttime vehicle accident scenes where victims might be laying outside of visible light; scanning the area with a thermal camera saves precious minutes when individuals need emergency medical care. Since TICs clearly visualize heat sources, this technology is a valuable tool when responding to a Hazmat or Search & Rescue incident.
Fire departments across the United States participate in mutual aid agreements, and, as evident by this donation, assist each other whenever possible. South Metro Fire Rescue protects 179 square miles in Douglas and Arapahoe counties, providing emergency and prevention services to more than 200,000 residents. And with this donation, will also be helping the 20,000 residents in the Steamboat Springs Fire District.