FLINT TWP. — Similar to other superheroes, firefighters need to be able to see through walls.
But in their case, this lifesaving ability comes in the form of special equipment.
Thermal Imaging Cameras are heat-seeking devices that can help them locate victims in a dark or smoky room, identify hotspots in a structure and even detect structural weaknesses, according to industry descriptions. In short, the cameras allow firefighters to “see” inside burning buildings.
“We use them at every fire,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Burkley, in his request to the township board to purchase new ones.
“Our current ISI cameras are getting very close to the end of the life span,” Burkley said in his written request.
The three cameras currently in use were purchased in 1998. Not only has thermal imaging technology changed quite a bit over the past 17 years but also when one of the department’s cameras was last sent out for repairs about a year and a half ago, they were informed that the parts are no longer available for it, he said.
A trade-in program is available that will reduce replacement costs by $750 ($250 per camera). Preparing for the cameras to fail, the replacement costs for them was included in the 2015 fire department budget.
Burkley recommended purchasing the equipment at a final cost of $12,375 (after the trade-in allowance) from Douglass Safety Systems of Sanford, MI. Each FLIR K45 Thermal Image camera costs $4,375.
Douglass was the low-bidder of three received. Other bidders were FLSI of Freeland, MI, the only other dealer in Michigan, and Heiman Fire Equipment of Ashton, Iowa, he said.
Township board members unanimously approved Burkley’s request.
Burkley said the cameras were previewed and approved by department members. The cameras have a four-inch LCD display and are powered by Lithium Ion batteries with four hours run time. They can store up to 200 .jpeg images. The price includes a truck mount charger, desktop smart charger, storage cases, software, retractable lanyard, and Kevlar shoulder strap.
Burkley also said the cameras cannot be sold to the public.