Northwest firefighters equipped with new tool to expedite rescues

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 8:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When firefighters show up to an emergency call, every second counts.

Quickly locating victims and hot spots can be especially challenging for firefighters who have to navigate through unfamiliar buildings in low visibility conditions.

To help expedite rescues and increase safety, the Northwest Fire District purchased SEEK infrared thermal imaging cameras for every firefighter.

“This could be the tool that saves a life of one of our own, maybe the life of a victim because it is saving on time,” said Josh Zent, the Division Chief of Operations.

“A fire doubles in size every minute,” said Northwest Fire District Captain Jeff Hamblen. “In the past, only the fire officer or the captain had a thermal imaging camera on them.”

Hamblen said he would work quickly to communicate this information to his crew so they could locate victims and the seed of the fire.

Hamblen said it is a relief to know everyone now has the ability to see through the smoke to identify victims, the location of the fire, and stay oriented.

Each camera cost about $800, so the district spent a total of roughly $65,000 on thermal imaging cameras.

“This equipment allows us to be very effective at the job we are doing and serving our mission and allows us to be safe which is most important for me as a fire officer, making sure that our folks get to go home to their families every day at the end of shift,” Hamblen said.

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