Good news in a generous gesture

Published 8:48 pm Monday, July 13, 2015

There’s nothing like sharing the wealth.

That must be at least a portion of what was on the minds of officials from the Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue recently when they decided to split up a set of 20 thermal imaging cameras the department had received through a grant from the commonwealth of Virginia.

Thanks to the department’s decision to pay forward some of the generosity it had received from the state’s Assistance to Localities program, each of Suffolk’s four volunteer fire departments now has one of the $8,900 technologically advanced cameras Suffolk got through the Virginia program. Especially for the city’s volunteer departments, that kind of money is a big deal, and it could have been a while before departments in Chuckatuck, Driver, Holland and Whaleyville were all in a financial position to spend that money on thermal cameras.

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But the city was able to spare four of its 20 cameras and still have enough to place cameras on 10 fire engines, three aerial ladder trucks, a heavy rescue unit and two command vehicles.

The thermal imaging cameras give firefighters the ability to see through dark areas, smoke or places where heat can seep through by transforming the radiated heat into visible light. This tool gives an upper hand to rescuers searching for victims in situations where they are usually hidden from the naked eye. They can also spot smoldering fires inside a wall or detect overheating electrical wiring.

Suffolk residents can feel a bit safer knowing there are so many of the new cameras spread around this huge city, and they can also take comfort in a generous gesture that seems to provide evidence of improvements in a sometimes rocky relationship between the paid department and the volunteer departments.

That’s all good news.