Charlottesville Fire Department Upgrade Its Search and Rescue Equipment
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville Fire Department is getting an upgrade to its search and rescue equipment that will allow it to do twice the amount of work in half the amount of time.
On Thursday, new firefighters did a burn training exercise that allowed NBC29 to see how they use thermal imaging cameras.
The Charlottesville Fire Department doubled its supply and gave the device an upgrade.
When a fire breaks out, it's all hands on deck.
“Two eyes are better than one,” said Scott Carpenter, a training officer with the Charlottesville Fire Department.
With thermal imaging cameras, it's as if these eyes have x-ray vision.
"It's mind-blowing that you can take a small device, a small handheld device and be able to see throughout a room that’s charged with smoke to make sure there are no victims there and to locate hidden fires as well,” said Fire Captain Bradley McDaniel.
With thermal imaging cameras, they can do even more.
“The technology has changed. It’s improved, so the packaging of the camera is a lot smaller. They’re not as big as they used to be. The imaging is a lot better for them. Then they're also introducing a color gradient scale for us to be able to tell the difference between what’s just hot and what's on fire,” stated Carpenter. "Once we start to get to 300 degrees and higher, we see how this graduated scale changes from yellow to orange to red and that's a pretty good indication of whether where we have a fire or not."
The department first got one of these cameras about 15 years ago, when it cost $20,000.
Over the years, the cameras have had enhancements and had dropped $15,000 in price.
"With the introduction of the new cameras and the price reduction, we've been able to put two on each truck,” said Carpenter.
Each truck originally only had one thermal imaging device, meaning firefighters sent inside a live scene had to stick together.
“He or she would watch the camera, and direct the person in front of them left or right up or down where to direct the stream. Where to concentrate their search efforts on,” said McDaniel. "Having two devices on each piece of apparatus allows us to twice the amount of work in half the amount of time."
NBC29 was told that having two per truck is not a common thing in the state.
The cameras cost anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000. The Charlottesville Fire Department said it's spending a maximum of $60,000 on these devices.
Firefighters said it was worth it.