Fire Department to Upgrade Thermal Imaging Cameras

By Alex Malm

The Fire Department went in front of the Town Council on April 24 to discuss a proposal to purchase thermal imaging cameras with American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Deputy Fire Chief, Bo Butler, said they were looking to purchase 35 cameras. Butler added that the goal is to equip every firefighter with a thermal imaging camera on the fire ground.
“We will be seeking ARPA funds to make this a reality,” Butler said.
Some of the reasons why the department was looking to purchase the cameras includes helping firefighters being able to see through zero visibility conditions, improving search times, locating possible fire victims and fire, monitor fire spread/behavior, and locate hidden fires. It will also help improve firefighter survival.
One example given of where the thermal imaging camera saved lives was on July 27, 2022 during a fire on Tsienneto Road.
Following the fire, a near miss report was done and one of the recommendations was to have one of the cameras for every riding position.
“Under the leadership of our fire chief we are here to make sure it never happens again,” said Lieutenant, Christopher Lamy.
Lieutenant, Bruce Hallowell, explained how he became disoriented on the third floor with a probationary firefighter. He said he was the only one who had a thermal imaging camera, which became problematic because of the extra air needed by giving directions because the probationary firefighter couldn’t see through the 0 visibility conditions.
“I was the only one with the eyes,” Hallowell said, saying that if everyone can see, they can move easier.
“In the grand scheme of things it’s cheap money,” Hallowell said.
Hallowell said that in terms of maintenance of the cameras, they run on a battery life of three to five years and they feel it’d be worth the investment.
“These cameras will continue to save lives,” Hallowell said.
The Town Council approved using the ARPA fund for the purchase.
Also during the meeting, Butler gave the Town Council an update regarding equipment the department is in the process of ordering and receiving.
On March 6, the Town Council approved allocating $173,293.88 from the fire department’s fire equipment capital reserve fund in order to purchase a number of pieces of equipment including things like hoses and SCBA masks.
It was explained by Butler that all of the equipment they plan on ordering has been ordered, except for the high-rise hose/nozzle package. He said the battalion chiefs are trying out the different packages before they make a decision on what to order.
Butler said that to date they have spent about $131,996.07 out of the $173,293.88 allocated.

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