UMass Amherst Purchases Second Thermal-Imaging Camera For Use by Amherst Fire Department

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts has arranged for the purchase at a reduced cost of a $21,500 thermal-imaging camera to be used by the Amherst Fire Department and for education and training at the University. The camera, equipped with a transmitter that sends images to both the individual using it and to another location, will be purchased from the Kentucky-based Bullard Company for $9,500, a savings of $12,000 off the list price.

UMass Chancellor David K. Scott said: "I am pleased that the University can participate in the town''s effort to secure another imaging camera. As our strategic partnership agreement with Amherst demonstrates, the University is committed to employing its resources to benefit the community. In this case, our resources extend beyond mere dollars."

Donald Robinson, director of Environmental Health and Safety at UMass, said the camera was offered by Bullard at a reduced cost because it will be used in his safety engineering classes at the University and for firefighter training, but will be permanently housed at the Amherst Fire Department. "We have a partnership with the Amherst Fire Department, and this arrangement is a positive step for both of us," Robinson said, noting that there are 17 UMass student firefighters in the Amherst department and University employees are also part of the 24-member firefighter call force.

Amherst Fire Chief Keith Hoyle said he has already ordered a thermal-imaging camera from Bullard, but it is a different model that lacks the transmitting capacity. That camera, which costs $18,300, is expected to be delivered by the end of the month, Hoyle said. The prospect of obtaining a second camera is excellent news, Hoyle said. "As far as I am concerned, this is a good deal for everyone," Hoyle said. The cameras will be housed on the department''s two front-line fire engines to assure they will arrive at fire scenes with the first responding units, he said.

The cameras are used to locate people inside burning and smoke-filled buildings, to find firefighters lost inside buildings, and to reveal hidden fires behind walls, under floors, or near chimneys, he said. In addition, the cameras have a range of up to 100 feet and can be used to find people who are lost in the woods, Hoyle said.

Amherst Selectman Hill Boss said, "I think this is a good deal for the town. Through the auspices of the University, the town is getting a second camera." Boss said there is also legislation pending before the legislature that could give communities grants to offset the purchase price of the cameras. If that is approved, the additional savings would be more good news for the town, he said.