Police & Fire Foundation, J.D. Powers fund modern firefighting technology
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: September 27, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
Modern firefighting technology was shown off to the City Council with the reminder that the annual Moonlight at the Ranch helps to provide equipment through benefit proceeds passed along by the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation.
Fire Chief Rick Araiza brought several firefighters to explain the department’s new equipment at the September 16 council meeting.
“This presentation basically is just going to be a little show and tell,” and lots of bragging on the modern technology Araiza said were funded by grants from the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation and J.P. Powers & Associates.
“It is important to note,” that grants have been secured without cost said Firefighter Andy VanSciver who noted his wife Marleen Canniff has been the SPFD grant writer.
Canniff, a volunteer, has secured close to $1 million in grant monies for the department.
Thermal imaging cameras are vital to firefighting by allowing firefighters to determine heat sources and “direct us to put water on the fire,” equipment that VanSciver noted has numerous other features and functions.
Firefighter Travis Hines said the SPFD “tested numerous models, we looked for the best features and most reliable,” and those units selected have the “best screen,” most versatility and options including a hazardous materials feature.
Going into a smoke charged room has many challenges that can be overcome by thermal cameras: “It’s our most important tool,” said VanSciver who noted the technology, “Can locate victims including children hiding under beds or on top of bunks, even if they’re under the covers we can find them.... “
The cameras also have video features that can retain information for investigations.
VanSciver said the cameras can be set to detect things above certain temperatures: “We can set the camera to show everything over 103 degrees,” to locate fire hot spots.
The SPFD has also received grant funding for additional helmet microphones.
Firefighter Alex Horton noted, “It is extremely important to have effective communications,” and equipment wore in a firefight including the face piece muffled voices.
A demonstration showed that without a microphone, “It’s a little clearer than talking underwater,” but VanSciver said firefighting is a noisy environment that only hampers hearing.
With the new helmet microphones sound is amplified and distinct, even in the noisiest of circumstances, and Horton noted hooking into the radio system boosts effectiveness even more.
VanSciver said the SPFD has gradually acquired six sets split between the two engine companies.
The cost of each set is $4,000 funds Araiza said were provided by the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation and JD Powers.
The latter has a grant process based, “On the most needy... and the presentation has to be for something new and innovative,” such as the microphones that will be purchased with the grant.
“When I was a firefighter I had to use hand signals,” or leave a building to get on the radio to communicate, but noted Araiza, “That’s all different now,” with modern technology such as the helmet microphones and accessories.