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Heartland grant completes Thermal Imaging Camera upgrade

Heartland grant completes Thermal Imaging Camera upgrade

The Turangi Volunteer Fire Brigade's Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC) is now completely upgraded thanks to a grant from KCE's Heartland Community Fund.

For more than a year the Turangi Volunteer Fire Brigade has owned a TIC; a type of thermographic camera used in firefighting to pick-up on heat signals.

However, chief fire officer (CFO) Tong Kingi said that to operate to its full potential, the TIC required a number of minor upgrades; including an attachment known as an Electronic Thermal Throttle.

"The primary function of a basic TIC is to allow firefighters to see areas of heat that can't be seen with the naked eye - due to smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers.

"There are many instances a TIC is used. It is particularly useful to identify hotspots in building fires and extinguish them, helping to prevent re-ignition. It can also pick up body heat if, for instance, someone is trapped where a rescuer cannot find them, or has been thrown from a moving vehicle in the dark.

"To improve its capability the TIC needed a number of additional pieces of equipment; one of the most significant being an Electronic Thermal Throttle," he said."

Mr Kingi said the initial purchase of the TIC and all necessary upgrades were only possible through fundraising.

"We required an Electronic Thermal Throttle indicator to provide us with an exact temperature reading. Not only can this piece of equipment tell us what areas are hot, but how hot."

"Being able to measure the severity of the heat in a hotspot prevents us overlooking the hottest areas in a fire; such oversight has great potential to end in tragedy," he said.

After a successful application to KCE's Heartland Community Fund for a grant in March last year, the Electronic Thermal Throttle has just arrived from America, completing the TIC's upgrade.

"Thanks to the Heartland grant we now have the Electronic Thermal Throttle in-hand, finishing our TIC upgrade. We're confident that it is now operating to an improved capability – benefitting our entire community."

"We had to be patient for the throttle's arrival. All parts to the camera must be ordered from America and it is a very involved process to get them through customs. Not just anyone can order this type of equipment into the country," he said.

The fire brigade has already used the TIC with the Electronic Thermal Throttle once, this month, during a trailer fire. This was a lower-priority job; and therefore a great opportunity for our firefighters to get a feel for the Electronic Thermal Throttle.

"Using the throttle, the firefighters could stand back and direct the jet of water to the hottest point. In this way, they weren't exposed to unnecessary risk."

"As you can see, the throttle will be very useful in more severe emergencies and is pivotal to keeping the public safe."

Mr Kingi said due to the cost of the equipment, there are very few rural brigades around the country with a TIC as sophisticated as this.

"We are very grateful to all our sponsors; and in this specific case to KCE for its Heartland grant towards the throttle. With our upgraded TIC we can provide an improved level of service that will be felt throughout the country.

Applications for Heartland's latest funding round open to King Country community groups on 1 July and close on 31 July. Visit www.kce.co.nz/heartland for more details.

ENDS