The Caraway Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a thermal imagery camera earlier this month form Department of Homeland Security as part of the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistant Program (CEDAP). The program is designed to assist smaller communities in acquiring and using commercially available equipment to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorists attacks.
Caraway Fire Chief Barry Riley filled out the application and submitted it in January, and received the word in early June that the department would be receiving the camera.
Chief Riley and his wife Wendy flew to Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 14 to receive the thermal imagery camera and receive training at the CEDAP conference. This is the second year that Riley has attended the conference.
There were over 1000 law enforcement officers, fireman, and EMS personnel on hand to receive equipment and special training. Riley's training was a four hour session, that consisted of maintenance, and operation of the camera, and "hands on" experience while operating and maintaining the instrument. The training was set in a direction that trained the students to go back to their respected departments and teach classes in the use of the equipment.
Riley returned to Caraway and held a training class Monday Aug. 21 at the fire department where members from the fire department, the search and rescue team, and the Caraway ambulance were in attendance.
The camera will be shared with the Caraway Ambulance Service and the Eastern Craighead County Search and Rescue, which is based Caraway.
A thermal imagery camera detects differences in surface temperatures and has many uses, such as locating the seat of a fire, determine spread of fire, locating hot spots, search and rescue, navigation in a smoky environment, scene assessment, overhaul and many other uses not named.
Riley says the camera does not see smoke, it sees heat. This will help in locating victims trapped in a house, fire hidden in walls, it will also enable the fire-fighters to see their way clearer in a smoke environment. This will speed up time for people trapped in a fire, plus enable the fire-fighter to find the fire and extinguish it before the fire causes more damage. Jerry Stokes Commander of the Search and Rescue team said the camera will be very useful for them, seeing the camera can detect body heat at least a 1000 feet from the person holding the camera. He said that would help in searching for people at night.
Riley said the camera was valued at $ 9,721 and is something the fire department would never be able to purchase without the help of programs such as this one.
Riley expressed thanks for local law enforcement, and Craighead County's former Arkansas Department of Emergency Management director, Jack Richardson, for help in filling out the application.