LAFD adding thermal imaging cameras for smoke-filled rooms

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When firefighters enter a burning structure, they're faced with low visibility in a place where they don't know the layout.

So in a dark, smoke-filled room, thermal imaging is a life saver.

And now, the department has 1,000 thermal imaging cameras, each the size of an iPhone.

"We now have the opportunity for every firefighter on duty today to use this tool to ensure the safety and lives of the people who serve. This is a game changer in the fire service," said LAFD Battalion Chief Dean Zipperman.

The new thermal imaging cameras cost $750 each.

Before the department got these cameras, each fire engine was equipped with bigger cameras that can cost up to $15,000 each.

In addition to measuring heat indexes, the devices include a camera and a flashlight.

Within seconds of entering a low-visibility environment, firefighters can locate a victim. They can also identify hot spots before they turn into something bigger and allow firefighters a way out in case they get separated.

The LAFD is the largest metropolitan fire department to have the cameras for every on-duty firefighter and paramedic, paid for by funds raised through the LAFD foundation.

"We're very fortunate. We couldn't have done it without the donors and people of the Los Angeles community and beyond who made these donations in an effort to make a difference and these as you've heard are life-changing," said Liz Lin, the president of the LAFD Foundation.
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