An Albany Firefighter looks at the user manual for one of the department's new thermal imaging cameras Wednesday. The cameras register heat signatures and can show people or hot spots in houses regardless of the amount of light in the structure.
ALBANY, Ga. — In the past, when a firefighter would enter a smoke-filled room, the time-tested method to locate anyone who may still be in the structure was to feel around and hope you can get to the downed person before they die.
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Today, firefighters have gone more high-tech, using thermal imaging cameras that can use a person's body heat to show firefighters where they are in a burning home, even if the room is completely dark and filled with smoke.
"The technology allows us to see someone in a room, even there is no light or if it's completely filled with smoke," Assistant Fire Chief Rubin Jordan said. "It helps keep us safe, but also helps us find people in a hurry."
Wednesday, firefighters learned how to properly use and maintain 14 new thermal imaging cameras that were just recently purchased by the department using special local option sales tax. The department spent about $114,000 on the cameras, Chief James Carswell said, which will go to replace ones that had exceeded their useful shelf life.
The department deploys one camera on each of its trucks. Additional cameras are scattered throughout the department.
While the cameras will be primarily used for firefighting purposes, they can also be deployed to help public safety officials locate missing people, Jordan said.
"Also we can use these cameras when people get lost on the way from home, we can use these cameras to go into dense woods and detect body heat and possibly save someone's life," Jordan said.