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Columbia Fire Department gets 18 new thermal imaging cameras

The Columbia Fire Department has purchased 18 new thermal imaging cameras. The cameras allow firefighters to see in the dark because they register heat.

The cameras can be used to search for victims, look for hot spots and help a firefighter find the safest way out of the building.

“With thermal imaging, firefighters are able to get themselves out of structures when something goes bad 100 percent of the time because they are able to identify the doors and windows to get out,” Captain Brian Tilman with the Columbia Fire Department said. “They also reduce the amount of time its takes to search a structure by 70 percent.”

The new cameras are also useful in search and rescue situations.

“We can set it to the temperature of a human body and then it will light up blue when we find anything that’s hotter than that,” Tilman said.

The new cameras have a DVR function that can be used to take photos and videos for training. They are also much lighter than the old ones.

“The biggest bonus we have is just the sheer weight,” Tilman said. “If we can shed a few pounds, that’s a great asset for us.”

The department started using thermal imaging cameras back in 2000. This is the second time the equipment has been upgraded.

The new cameras cost just over $112,000. They were paid for by trading in the old cameras and by using funds from old firetrucks that have been sold.

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