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Doolittle Rural Fire Protection District wins grant for thermal imaging equipment

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 9:07 AM CST
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DOOLITTLE, Mo. (KY3) - The Doolittle Rural Fire Protection District has been awarded a grant that will help it purchase thermal imaging equipment.

The fire district announced that it has been awarded a grant of $14,200 from The Leary Firefighters Foundation. The fire district will now be able to purchase two FLIR K65 Thermal Imaging Cameras with this grant.

“I became Fire Chief in March of this year,” said Doolittle Rural Fire Protection District Chief Brandon Williams. “One of my goals was to move this department forward. We’re fortunate enough that our taxpayers passed a tax levy increase in April. So we almost tripled our budget. Essentially between double and triple. So that helped us in that realm, but we were still low and considered a low budget.”

Williams said he tries to apply for as many grants as he can.

“So by applying for these grants, our goal is to ease the burden off our budget that’s made up by personal property tax,” he said.

He applied for this particular grant several months ago. He said he had almost forgotten about it until he recently received word that his fire district had won.

“That’s a very good chunk of our annual budget that now we don’t have to worry about,” Williams said. “Our current thermal imaging camera is more than 10 years old.”

Williams said the new thermal imaging cameras will be a huge help for his team. The cameras use heat signatures, he said. The devices pick up objects that give off heat.

“It can different differentiate between the victim and a fire,” Williams said. “When you go into a fire, the majority of fires are zero visibility. You can’t see your hand in front of your face. So when you search in that basically thermal imaging camera will see through that smoke and will pick up a heat signature, whether it’s a person, a body, or a fire. That’s a game-changer. I mean, we’re very fortunate to be awarded this grant because a lot of fire departments don’t even have thermal imaging cameras.”

The Leary Firefighters Foundation was established in 2000 by actor Denis Leary in response to a tragic fire in Worcester, Massachusetts that claimed the lives of his cousin, a childhood friend, and four other brave firefighters.

“The Leary Firefighters Foundation has done a phenomenal job over the last 21 years of making sure these departments are getting the equipment that they need,” Williams said. “It helps get them the gear they really can’t afford and then helps their budgeting.”

Williams said the foundation is the only foundation in the U.S. that funds equipment, vehicles, education, training, and technology for firefighters nationwide.

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