Groves Fire Department to use thermal imaging cameras to pickup heat signatures in walls

Published 12:22 am Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Groves Fire Department will add more than $23,000 in equipment at no cost to the city thanks to a sandwich spot and the diligent work of one of the department’s own.

During a Groves city meeting, the council voted to approve a grant from Firehouse Subs for three thermal imaging cameras and accessories. The grant covers all of the $23,160 cost for the new equipment.

Haden Grove, president of the department’s union, came across the grant while doing research.

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“He did the paperwork and legwork,” City Manager D.E. Sosa said. “He was able to get the grant to get three state-of-the-art cameras at no charge to the city.”

Sosa said the current cameras the city has are dated. The city manager said the department will have a camera for each truck.

“These are the type of cameras that will help you locate the fire and anyone that is incapacitated,” he said.

Groves Fire Chief Lance Billeaud said the cameras also help firefighters see flames that are in walls.

Thermal imaging cameras allow the user to see heat signatures in situations a person cannot see. If pointed into a room full of smoke, the camera can pick up the heat signature of a person, allowing firefighters to save lives they would not see otherwise.

“It is not like x-ray but it is similar where you see an outline,” Sosa said. “You don’t see a picture. The chief and I both agree that Mr. Grove should be commended for his initiative. He stumbled upon it and followed it through. We ended up with a real, real good addition to the fire department that was much needed.”

The chief said he and the department are grateful for the Firehouse Subs grant program.

Billeaud said the most recent cameras were purchased in 2012.

“Every two or three years technology changes,” he said. “You know how it is in the technology world. Everything changes fairly often. The ones we have are nine years old… They still had flip phones back in 2012.”

He said he does not know when the department will receive the cameras, but said they are in contact with Firehouse Subs and added that the grant providers said they will give them more information about getting the cameras in the near future.

Billeaud said he and plenty of other fire fighters eat at the Port Arthur location, which donated more than $80,000 to first responders in Jefferson County.