Hundreds of Summerfest chicken dinner eaters and donors helped the Saline Area Fire Department purchase a new thermal camera can help save lives and protect property.
Proceeds from the annual Firehouse Chicken Dinner helped the fire department purchase a Flir hand-held thermal cameral.
Firefighter Brandon Sears said the camera will help firefighters locate people in structure fires.
“TV has portrayed house fires as being crystal clear inside with fire all over the place. In reality, it’s zero visibility. You can’t even see the fire half the time because of the smoke. So this camera picks up on the heat differences and help us locate people much faster,” Sears said.
The cameras can also help firefighters search for missing people, or injured people following a vehicle crash.
“Sometimes after a crash a person may walk off in to a field at night. This can help with search and rescue,” Sears said.
Firefighters will also use the cameras to find fires inside of walls.
“We can find a fire a lot quicker, before it spreads and becomes more dangerous or causes more damage,” Sears said. “Firefighters like these cameras. Insurance companies like these cameras.”
The cameras can also be used to locate electrical problems or overheated blower motors.
It’s not Saline’s first thermal camera. The old camera was three times the size of the new model. The new model is two pounds.
The new camera, a Flir 5200, cost $5,200. This year’s Firehouse Chicken Dinner raised $6,900 for the Friends of the Saline Area Fire Department, which supports the fire department’s efforts.
Fire Chief Craig Hoeft thanked those who supported the fire department by purchasing a dinner or donating to the cause.
“With our general budget we purchase the things we absolutely must have. When the community supports us through things like the chicken dinner, we can get some extra things that can be very helpful in emergencies,” Hoeft said.
Hoeft said the department plans to buy another thermal camera next year. A couple years ago, proceeds from the annual dinners helped by a new off-road, all-terrain vehicle for the Saline Area Fire Department.