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Fireman’s Best Friend

May 17, 2011

Driving around the City of St. John, Kansas you can’t help but notice the beautiful nostalgic homes. You imagine the pride the builders must have felt. One home in particular stands out above the rest. Situated on a huge parcel of land the white limestone blends smoothly with the mellow yellow siding. It’s one of the first stately homes built in the City of St. John. And it’s reported on fire.

That was the message from the dispatcher – smoke in the basement.

Fire crews arrived and couldn’t locate the source of the smoke. That’s when they broke out the fireman’s best friend.
No, it’s not the dalmation, it’s the Thermal Imaging Camera.

This technologic wonder is so sensitive it will show footprints from a person walking without shoes across a carpeted floor. And, once the firefighters used it to scan the two-story structure the seat of the fire was quickly located.

The fire was actually not in the basement. It was in the top of the wall on the second story. Old homes such as these have walls that run from the basement to the attic. The smoke had banked from it’s seat all the way down to the basement.

But, the value of the camera didn’t stop there. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire without destroying major sections of the walls and ceilings. With the assistance of the camera they were able to see exactly where the heat was emanating. And, they could see when that heat had subsided.

One could say that luck was on the side of the owner and the community. The owner is a day care provider and was home to smell the smoke. The fire department responded quickly and performed an incredible job. But, their job was enhanced by the use of their best friend.

And here’s the catch. The City of St. John doesn’t own a thermal imaging camera – it was borrowed from the County. The County was able to provide it this time, but will it be available the next time?

Every fire department should have at least one best friend.

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