$25K grant to buy thermal imaging cameras for fire department

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The East Farmingdale Fire Department has received a $25,000 federal grant for thermal imaging cameras to help responders find victims in a fire.

The award through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program will provide for four of the small, hand-held devices that show heat signatures through smoke, said Kevin Mulrooney, vice president of JSK Inc., a public safety consulting company that writes grant applications for fire and ambulance agencies.

"If there's a firefighter who's trapped, you'll find him," Mulrooney said. "If there's a kid hiding in the closet, you can find him."

East Farmingdale district administrator Joseph Scura said the department has some thermal imaging cameras, but wanted more to ensure they have the cameras at every scene. The devices also help responders locate fires if they are in a wall or ceiling, he said.

"It makes our job more efficient," Scura said. "It tells us exactly where the problem is."

The department, which officials say responds to about 2,000 alarms each year, protects a 16-square-mile area that includes Farmingdale State College and Republic Airport.

"These guys get hammered a little bit, because they protect a lot of critical infrastructure for the state," Mulrooney said. "All these things are part of the community, and it's great, but business and homeowners are paying for fire protection on all those facilities."

The department is "thrilled" to receive the grant, Scura said, which means it is "not putting all the burden on local homeowners."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency started the grant program in 2001 to support firefighters and first responders.

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