Media Archive

Extra funds OK'd for thermal imager

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 21, May 22, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

BROWNVILLE After costs exceeded initial expectations, Brownville selectmen pledged to fund any remaining needs for the Fire Department's thermal imaging camera at a emergency selectmen's meeting last Thursday.

Through a series of fundraisers,the fire department collected over $4,000 for the camera, but the department learned recently that the original costs projections only covered a bare-bones model of the camera.

"The K-80 camera is just the basic camera, not giving any extra options," said Fire Chief Patrick Thomas. "(For example,) the basic model lets you see through the smoke, but it doesn't give any temperature."

According to Thomas and other fire department members represented at the meeting, a fire's temperature is information that can be crucial to the firefighter's safety.

The K-90 camera, the next step up in thermal imaging, would allow a firefighter to point the camera at an area and have an instant reading of the heat degree.

"Having the degree reader in one comer of the screen costs an extra $2,500. They could put the sensor on and tell if it (the fire) is running hotter than normal," said Selectmen Dennis Green. "You go into a building that's 800 degrees and you can't really tell how hot it is. You know it's hot, but you don't know how hot."

If the temperatures reach around 1700 degrees, firefighters will know they have to withdraw and can't go any further in without risking serious injury, he explained.

"To me, it's a safety issue," Green said.

In addition to the temperature reading, the fire department also felt a digital overlay would be an essential optional feature.

The digital overlay would make the images seen in the camera sharper, helping firefighters have a better picture of what else is in a structure beside fire and smoke.

"If there's a plaque on the other side of the room and it says explosives, you'll be able to see what it says," Green explained. "Without the overlay, you can't read much clearly."

The total cost for the camera is just over $20,000. With funds partially provided by a grant from the Cole Foundation, about 45 percent of the cost remained to be raised.

Additional features would make the amount to be raised for the camera about $6,000.

"I don't know if we can raise that, but all I'm asking the board is to (talk about the amount they could fund)," Green said. "We'll decide what to get based on that."

Selectmen voted unanimously to fund the additional costs with an understanding that the fire department was still going to try to raise as much of that amount as they could.

"The citizens of Brownville have generously donated along with some businesses in Milo," Green said. "There have been some very nice people out there."

The additional features will hold a benefit not only for Brownville, but for Brownville Junction, Williamsburg, Ebeemee, and Lake View Plantation, towns served by the Brownville Fire Department.

Fire Chief Thomas said he felt the additional features would make fighting fires "a lot safer for everyone." He said eight hours of training is required to operate the camera.

With funding secured, the thermal imager is scheduled to be received by Dec. 1.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.