GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Volunteer Fire Department recently acquired two thermal imaging cameras after purchasing them through funds acquired through an earlier bingo night.
“We shopped around and we lucked out because we were able to buy two thermal imaging cameras for the price of one,” said GVFD Chief Keith Elliot. “We went though a company and were getting prices for the cameras. They asked if we were interested in demo models. These are like state-of-the-art cameras. They’d used them in a fire school over a weekend to demo. They couldn’t sell them as new units so we bought two with bingo money.”
Firefighters commonly cannot see when entering a building filled with smoke.
“We need to be able to see and find people or to find where a fire is at,” said Elliot. “This camera show us and let us see heat signatures like of a body or person and even where a fire is at. If you have a fire in a wall that you might not be able to see from the outside, that camera allows us to see the heat in the wall to let us know there is a fire in the wall.”
Gallipolis Firefighter Josh Staley explained that if an individual had crawled on their hands and feet within a recent time frame, the camera could also pick up the heat signature in the form of handprints and footprints. Both Elliot and Staley said the units they possessed could capture video of images and connect them with a smartphone to allow tactical movement between firefighting units.
The cameras are of the FLIR K65 series.
The department previously had another thermal imaging unit from several years ago. Elliot said the previous unit was so old however that chargers and batteries utilized by the previous unit were no longer made and difficult to find.
Staley said law enforcement utilized such cameras when searching for individuals in the dark or to tracking a suspect’s footprints. The cameras could also be utilized to discover remaining hotspots in a structure in hopes of preventing fire rekindlings and thus another trip by the fire department to a burn site and the hazards included with that.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.