Special camera aids rescuers

EVERETT — Firefighters at the Paine Field Fire Department this holiday season got just the gift they had hoped for.

A federal grant allowed the department to purchase a thermal imaging camera, a device that allows firefighters to see through smoke or in the dark.

“It shows heat,” firefighter Peter Hereth said.

At the scene of an accident on a dark night, the camera can help find a victim quickly, giving firefighters the few precious moments often needed to save a life.

The device costs more than $10,000.

Buying the camera had been a priority on the department’s list for more than two years, Fire Chief Jeff Bohnet said.

When the device finally arrived last week, crews were excited to begin training.

Some of them have already gone through an interactive class, and more is to come, Hereth said. Crews will try the device in the field so each firefighter knows how to properly use it.

“Everything it does, we have other ways of doing,” but the device can make the firefighters’ work much more efficient, Hereth said. “It really is another tool in our toolbox.”

The department is responsible for the safety of all runways, industrial buildings and businesses at Paine Field. During business hours, thousands of men and women work there, Hereth said.

Among other things, the camera can help locate animals and birds that can pose a threat to airplanes, said Diana Rose, a program manager at the county Department of Emergency Management.

Rose played a key role in getting the money for the camera, Bohnet said.

Rose said she knew there was a need, but securing the funds was by no means easy. She was able to convince one grant committee to allocate the money to the department.

“I worked really hard to get it for them, but it wasn’t a hard sell,” Rose said. “They just deserved it.”

Reporter Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452 or kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

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