By Katelyn Hoverkamp
Public Information Officer 

Thermal Imaging Camera May Help Save Lives

Polk Fire Rescue Now Equipped With Newer Models


Last updated 9/5/2023 at 8:45am

News file photo

A simple hand-held thermal-imaging device can be the difference between life and death, allowing commanders to :see" the heat and detect persons moving in a hazardous situation. They are useful not only in fires but also in searching for individuals who are lost and may be in need of medical assistance.

In a move that local officials hope may help save lives and property, Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) has added 45 new FLIR Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) to its fire engines, ladder trucks, squads and tower trucks.

"These new TICs will enhance the decision-making abilities and save lives," said Fire Chief Hezedean A. Smith, D.M. "By helping to protect Polk County's residents and visitors, and by making sure our members come home safely every day, these cameras will ensure safety for all."

Polk County Fire REscue staffs multiple stations across the county. Local stations include locations in Babson Park, South Lake Wales, Timberlane, Nalcrest/Lakeshore, Indian Lake, Sun Ray, and on SR 60 near Lake Wales Country Club.

TICs first began appearing on fire apparatus in the 1990s. Today, TICs are no longer considered a specialty item and many fire departments consider the cameras essential tools for firefighters.

The new FLIR K65 "decision making" cameras will replace the division's outdated TICs, providing PCFR members with a transformative view of firefighting efforts. According to Special Operations Chief Codi Donahoe, the devices will increase efficiency in search and rescue while improving safety for firefighters.

The cameras offer enhanced features, including an improved image processing rate, improved picture clarity and definition and improved thermal detection, allowing officers to see thermal layering and anticipate fire progression more easily. TICs provide a wide range of use. In addition to fire scenes, they can also be utilized for search and rescue, suppression activities, water rescues and Haz-Mat incidents.


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