By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
2020 ended on a high note for the North Attleborough Fire Department as they took delivery of six new thermal imaging cameras.
The cameras were paid for through a FEMA 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the amount of $49,090. The department matched 10 percent of this, bringing the total to approximately $54,000. The cameras arrived near the end of December, according to Fire Chief Christopher Coleman.
“A thermal imaging camera is a versatile tool that enables a firefighter to see through smoke, monitor fire progression, locate hidden fire, locate trapped occupants and give the firefighter the temperature of the fire room,” wrote Coleman in a release.
On Dec. 30, Coleman said the department’s mechanics mounted the new cameras on all frontline fire apparatus. The cameras are manufactured by Kentucky-based Bullard. Founded in 1898, Bullard is a manufacturer of high-quality personal protective equipment and systems. Products include thermal imagers, hard hats, firefighter and rescue helmets, supplied air respirators, powered air-purifying respirators, and air quality equipment.
The thermal imagers—about the size of a digital camera—can be used for multiple purposes. With these, firefighters can locate fires inside a wall and avoid a lengthy search. This also limits damage caused by opening up different parts of a wall to search for fires.
The department has been using thermal imaging cameras for many years. However, Coleman said the older ones used in North Attleborough are around 10 years old and no longer in compliance. One of the improvements of the newer models is they can tell fire crews the exact temperature of a fire.
“An important part is knowing when to get out of the building when it gets too hot,” said Coleman in August.
The purpose of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is to protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire related hazards.
The department has also received a $49,062 grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. This funding will be used to purchase PPE, disinfecting solutions, and cover the costs of continued cleanings. Coleman said a company called Red Line cleans the stations every month or two. Since the pandemic started, the department has had a good supply of PPE, and inventories of face masks and other items are conducted regularly.