COLUMBIANA - Advances in technology are shaving precious seconds from the time it takes to save a life.
The city's volunteer fire department was recently awarded a federal grant that paid for two new thermal imaging cameras and a rapid intervention team kit.
Fire Chief Rick Garrity said the cameras have the capability to locate a child or adult stranded in a burning home or other structure. They will replace the department's two outdated cameras that are no longer usable.
"The newer ones are more advanced and have a lot more features the technology has come a long way," he said.
For example, the cameras can even trace the path of a person trying to find their way out of a structure by picking up on the natural body heat left behind by their feet.
"You can follow the footprints through the house," he said.
He added that the cameras' primary purpose is finding victims or downed firefighters in a structure, but they can also be used for identifying potential fire hazards.
"If we get a call for a smell of smoke in a building we can pick out (the source quickly). It's a great tool," he said.
The cameras can also be used for other circumstances, such as assisting search teams.
Garrity said the new cameras will be stored on each one of the department's first out fire engines.
The rapid intervention team kit will also be stored one of the fire engines, although he hopes it will never be needed.
A kit is already stored on one of the fire engines and the second kit is for back-up, should the department be called to multiple fires at the same time.
"We hope we are never going to have to use the kit but we are going to train for it," he said.
The kit provides a means for other firefighters to supply a downed or trapped firefighter with additional air.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant was for approximately $20,000.
Garrity is continuing to seek grant funding for a new ladder truck that will replace the oldest fire engine that has been in service nearly 40 years.
A new ladder truck will cost around $600,000, he estimated.
The department has four fire engines, one grass truck and one tanker pumper.