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Sea Cliff Fire Department to receive thermal cameras

Thermal cameras could help save North Shore lives

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Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Democrat from Glen Cove, has secured a $29,800 county grant for the Village of Sea Cliff, which will be used to purchase four thermal imaging cameras for the village Fire Department. The funding, which was approved by the Legislature on Sept. 21, will be provided through an intermunicipal agreement between the county and the village.

DeRiggi-Whitton said that the SCFD would be the third fire department in the 11th Legislative District to receive the cameras, with the other two in Glen Cove and Port Washington. She discussed the department’s needs with its leadership roughly 18 months ago, she said, and the cameras were one of its focuses.

“This seemed to be what they really were interested in,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “It provides a service that makes sure they’re not missing anyone in the building if someone is passed out from smoke inhalation.”

Thermal imaging cameras enable firefighters to locate heat signatures in dark and smoke-filled areas. This helps them move through spaces more safely and effectively, and to locate trapped fire victims. Finding victims just a few minutes earlier can make all the difference in a life-or-death situation, DeRiggi-Whitton said.

The camera is roughly the size of a smartphone, and can be used in all situations firefighters face, including search and rescue, hazardous material incidents and traffic accidents. SCFD Chief William Koopmann explained that the camera shows red or white images when it is pointed toward heat sources. This helps firefighters not only locate victims, he said, but also determine the sources of smoke and fire, which in turn is helpful in determining what caused a fire.

“It’s a very valuable piece of equipment that firefighters use these days,” Koopmann said. “It makes a firefighter’s job easier.”

Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman said he experienced the dangers of smoke inhalation firsthand when he visited his grandmother’s apartment building when he was 25. A fire broke out, and as one of the only young people in the building, he recalled, he did what he could to help people outside.

In the process, Lieberman said, he inhaled smoke, and was overwhelmed by a feeling of suffocation, although he remained conscious. That gave him a greater appreciation for the work firefighters do, he said, and they deserve all the help thermal imaging cameras can give them. He said he was happy to work with the Legislature to bring a new tool to the Fire Department to help save lives, something for which he said the firefighters are grateful.

“They’re happy that they’re getting this,” Lieberman said. “It just adds another tool in their tool chest in making them more efficient — even more so than they already are. It’s something they look forward to as far as having the ability to be more proficient in their service.”

DeRiggi-Whitton said she was determined to continue helping fire departments in her district, and especially to provide them with the best technology available. Firefighters and other first responders operate in difficult conditions, she said, so anything that can be done to help them save as many lives as possible is always worth looking into.