Rector Fire Department Gains New Equipment

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Rector volunteer firefighters chief Huston Bowden (left), Justin Jackson (center) and Todd Watson inspect the new thermal imagers and self contained breathing apparatuses received by the department.(TD photo/Jessica Rainwater)

The Rector Fire Department received two FLIR thermal imagers and six reconditioned self-contained breathing apparatuses last week.

Chief Huston Bowden was approved to apply for a $7,529 grant from the Arkansas Department of Rural Services by the city council in August and in October he was again approved to accept the money. With the help of State Rep. Joe Jett and State Sen. Blake Johnson, the fire department was able to achieve the goal rather quickly. Cost to the city was $7,530 and $4,943 in state insurance funds for a total of $17,854 spent on the new equipment.

The last time the fire department purchased these items was 2005. The equipment is essential for the department, Bowden said. Technology has changed immensely since then and the difference can be seen in the ease of using the equipment. The old thermal imagers were about the size of a laptop and had to be held upright with both hands. The new imagers look similar to a radar gun and can be held with one hand.

Thermal imagers are important because they allow the fireman to see hot spots in fires and people inside fires needing to be rescued without the fireman rushing in unprepared.

The new imagers are top of the line with a black and white fire fighting mode, a fire mode and search and rescue mode. The black and white fire fighting mode differentiates between the fire and everything else. The fire mode evaluates different levels of heat, and "helps find the source of the fire to keep unnecessary rekindling to a minimum," Bowden said. The search and rescue mode is infrared and gives the fire department the capability to assist local law enforcement in the case of a lost person or child. The imagers can reach up to 1,000 feet on flat land, which is roughly three blocks.

"These really enhance our capability," Bowden said. "The extent of what we can see inside the fire before rushing in will make us safer as a unit and more productive for area residents."

Another key feature of the new imagers is the option of taking photos during a fire. "If you see something suspicious you can simply click a picture," volunteer firefighter Steven Sigsby said. "Then later you can hook the device directly into your computer and see the pictures." The main reason this is so important is in fires the evidence can burn up, and this feature allows the firefighters to go back and re-evaluate.

New SCBA's ensure the firefighters will be able to fight the fire adequately. According to www.firehouse.com, SCBA's are the most important and widely used piece of fire equipment today and over the years have made fighting fires much safer for firefighters, allowing more lives saved and fewer fatalities for firefighters as well. This key piece of equipment is what allows firefighters to breathe inside a fire and without it braving the smoke could be deadly.

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