Mason Fire Dept. gets county’s first thermal imaging masks

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A man wearing an oxygen mask.

Colin McKinney

Mason Fire Department chief, Kerry Minshall, wears one of the masks. The camera is on the right side of the mask.

The Mason Fire Department has gotten new masks that have infrared sensors in them, a boost that will increase efficiency in the jobs of firefighters.

In August of 2016, the Mason Fire Department ordered four Scott Sight Masks, masks that have small cameras next to the self-contained breathing apparatus part of the mask. These cameras have a display within the mask that the firefighter can see with their right eye. The Mason Fire Department is the only department in Ingham County to have these state-of-the-art masks.

A showcase of current and previous thermal imaging equipment.

Colin McKinney

A showcase of current and previous thermal imaging equipment.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, the masks finally arrived.

“These masks will make search-and-rescue a lot easier than before.” said Kerry Minshall, Mason’s fire chief.

Minshall said that the department has used handheld infrared sensors, however they’re a lot more cumbersome, and efficiency takes a huge hit.

“Those sensors see a lot further than the mask sensors, but you have to hold it, along with something like an axe and maybe an extinguisher. What are you supposed to do with the sensor if you find the cause of a fire or a person that needs help?” said Minshall.

Left; current mask used by firefighters Right; new Scott thermal imaging mask

Colin McKinney

Left; current mask used by firefighters
Right; new Scott thermal imaging mask

These masks should help with the overhaul phase of the fire as well as find the cause of the fire. The firefighters should be able to find the root cause of a fire, whether it’s in a bedroom, a kitchen, or a basement. It also helps remove potential hotspots of a fire, such as collapsed ceilings or exposed drywall.

“We have the community to thank for these masks,” said Minshall. “They donated during our couple fundraisers over the past year, and it really matters that they care so much about our job.”

Interior of a fire truck

Colin McKinney

What Kerry Minshall wants the interior of the truck to look like with the new masks. Masks are towards the top.

The masks cost $1,400 each.

The Mason Fire Department has a few fundraisers that it runs throughout the year, for instance a classic car show in August. The funds from them are used for equipment.

“When people ask ‘What are you gonna use this money for?’ and you say ‘equipment’, it’s a bit broad, I admit,” said Minshall. “However, we don’t know what we need until we look for it. Then, it goes to a committee which allocates the funds toward said equipment. That’s how we get stuff like the masks.”

The fire department planned to start training with the masks and talk about the various situations where the firefighters will need them on Feb. 24. After that, the infrared masks will be put into service.