High-tech help: New thermal imaging technology gives Glendale firefighters a life-saving tool

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Firefighters in Glendale are now using a new high-tech tool to help save lives and keep themselves safe: thermal imaging.

Often times during home or structure fires, the rooms are filled with thick smoke, making it difficult for firefighters to see or navigate. But with the new "seek" thermal imaging cameras, they can easily see images that reveal the outline of objects or people that may be inside.

"I like to equate it to the ability of a soldier to have night vision goggles. This technology gives our firefighters the ability to see in the dark," said Chief Silvio Lanzas with the Glendale Fire Department.

The technology was put to good use during a fire that ripped through an apartment building. Two firefighters were rushed to the hospital when they fell through the floor to the basement.

2 firefighters rescued by colleagues, hospitalized after being trapped in burning apartment building in Glendale
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Two firefighters were transported to a hospital after being trapped in a burning apartment building in Glendale and rescued by fellow firefighters, authorities said.

Crews on scene used the thermal imaging cameras to locate them, proving to be crucial to their rescue, the department says.

"This greatly opens our eyes and allows us to see these members, or victims, through any smoked out or blacked out conditions," Lanzas said.

The technology will also help firefighters detect hot spots without having to encounter them first. For example, if a door is wood-framed, firefighters would be able to scan the door and see the heat signatures within the door.

Each unit costs around $850 and are paid for by the city of Glendale as well as the Glendale Fire Foundations.

"It's hard to tell how many lives we will save," Lanzas said. "But the ability to have this technology in every firefighters hands gives us the chance every day to save a life."
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