Unique camera a firefighting giftPublished 9:26pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Thanks to the work of a loyal few, a broken piece of equipment that could mean the difference between life and death has been replaced.
Tuesday, Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Auxiliary treasure Larry Harding presented Fire Chief Robbie Rose with a thermal imaging camera, replacing the one that failed catastrophically, according to Rose. The camera would have cost $4,000 to repair, but money from a portrait fundraiser by the auxiliary earlier this year allowed the organization to step in and replace the key piece of equipment — at a cost of $9,000.
“Typically, we take those funds at buy things the department needs — you know, things the city doesn’t always have in the budget,” Harding explained.
Harding, who retired from the fire department 10 years ago said, over the years, the auxiliary pitched in for the department’s boat and bought a John Deere Gator utility vehicle large enough to carry a stretcher for rescues in more difficult terrain.
“We do buy big-money items that they need,” Harding said.
But that’s not all the auxiliary does. This small, dedicated group will pitch in for anything from items like extrication equipment, to a pedestal for a memorial statue, to purchasing and showing up to the scene of a long-lasting fire with food for the firefighters.
During those fires, it’s equipment like the thermal imaging camera that can direct them to hot spots behind walls and, potentially, to inert victims of smoke inhalation.
It may look like a heavy-duty flashlight, but its small screen shows the heat signature of anything in its path, locking onto a hot spot and giving its operator a digital temperature read of the area in question. Once it locks onto the hot spot, a laser option pinpoints its exact location to firefighters — they’ll know exactly where a fire exists in attics, walls, behind doors and can attack it accordingly. In the same way, while dense smoke can obscure the location of a person in need of rescue, a thermal imaging camera will lock onto a victim’s location through solid walls.
“This camera is the latest technology on the market,” Rose said. “We were very fortunate to get this piece of equipment.”
Harding described the auxiliary as “the fundraising arm of the department.”
“We’re always looking for members of the community who’d like to be a part of the auxiliary,” Harding said.
For more information about becoming a member of the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Auxiliary, contact Fire Chief Robbie Rose at 252-948-9400.