Raytown firefighters are first in the country to put in-mask thermal imaging into service

RAYTOWN, Mo. - Raytown firefighters are the first in the country to put in-mask thermal imaging into service.

The new masks help firefighters see better in a burning building.

The Raytown Fire Department is the first to put into service six new thermal imaging cameras with a display inside their masks. 

"When we add tools like this to our service it’s quantum leaps forward in our ability to do our jobs and save lives," said Taylor Seedorf, a firefighter who has used the camera. "It’s really spectacular."

The big difference with the new cameras is that they are much smaller and are attached to the side of the mask. On the inside of the mask, there is a small display with the thermal image produced by the camera. 

The new cameras allow firefighters to use both of their hands, instead of using one hand to operate the previous versions of the thermal imagine cameras. 

"My captains had the camera in their hand and basically lost use of there dominate hand," said Fire Chief Matt Mace, who purchased the cameras at a special conference. "Now they can use both their hands with searching a burning building."

This means that firefighters can more quickly search a burning structure, find and rescue victims and get out faster. 

"It's really nice," said Jeremy Bridges, a firefighter who has tested the new masks. "You can really see people. Especially if they are down on the ground."

Most fire departments don't have these masks, and the ones that do only have one or two for testing purposes, but Raytown has already put the six they purchased into service. 

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Richard Sharp can be reached at richard.sharp@kshb.com.

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