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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2012 Archives > September 2012 > New-Generation Of Thermal Imaging Cameras

Mayor Brown, Fire Commissioner Whitfield Introduce New-Generation Of Thermal Imaging Cameras

Contact:  Lorey Schultz   
               (716) 851-5545

City of Buffalo allocated $123,600 in Homeland Security grant funds to purchase 20 tactical lightweight thermal imaging cameras; Cameras allow firefighters to see heat signatures on the screen      


September 13, 2012 - BUFFALO– Today, Mayor Byron Brown and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield introduced the department’s 20 new state-of-the-art Eagle Attack Thermal Imaging Cameras and demonstrated how they worked.  The new cameras allow firefighters to see heat signatures on the screen in order to detect hot spots and people despite low visibility due to smoke or low light.  The cameras were purchased with Homeland Security grand funds at a cost of $123,600. ($6,680 each) 

"Growing strong communities starts with safety and public safety continues to be one of my top priorities,” said Mayor Brown.  “The thermal imaging cameras will provide an increased level of protection for residents, their property and our first responders.  They’re potential life saves, which is the ultimate goal."

During the demonstration, Buffalo Fire Commissioner Whitfield said the equipment is a vital piece of safety and diagnostic equipment used in the fire service to identify hidden hot spots in structures and to search for officers in distress.

“Visibility is often difficult inside a smoke filled room. A firefighter could be steps away from an unconscious person and not see them. But the thermal image cameras cut through the smoke and provide an amazingly accurate image of what is happening,” said Commissioner Whitfield.  “Digital imaging, like any technology, is evolving.  These cameras will make a big difference.  We’ll use them to find hot spots in walls and other areas, and it will make a difference in our response when people smell smoke in the house.”
The death of Engine 33 Firefighter Michael Seguin, who died of smoke inhalation suffered during a July 4, 1997 house fire, spurred Buffalo’s first push for thermal-imaging cameras.  The effort was known as ‘The Seguin Project’.  Thermal imaging cameras are carried on all BFD apparatus and, since 2010, mandatorily deployed at all fires and other appropriate emergencies. 

The new cameras replace the 38 older units, which after repairs over the years have gradually lost their effectiveness.  In some cases, the needed parts for repairs are no longer supported by the manufacturer. All members of the Buffalo Fire Department have been trained in the use of the new equipment.    The BFD has 15 additional cameras on order, bringing to 35 the total number of new cameras that will be purchased this year.

Made by Scott Safety, Eagle Attack is a tactical lightweight thermal imaging camera. It’s lightweight and extremely portable.  Its display is high resolution color and it is equipped with thermal video recording (TVT), which allows up to four hours of video.  This video can be used for training, evidence collection, etc.