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Technology Helps Fayetteville Fight Fires

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FAYETTEVILLE — When we hear the sirens, see the trucks, and smell the smoke, we immediately know there's a fire nearby. But once inside a burningbuilding, a firefighter's senses can blur. It can be down right impossible to see through all the smoke. That makes rescue effortstough. But thanks to a new technology, the fight for life is being mademore successful.

Where there's smoke, there's usually fire. But finding that fire can betough, even for firefighters. A headlight does them no good when there'slittle or no visibility inside a burning structure.

A new helmet is equipped with an infrared video camera to see throughthe smoke. It helps firefighters find hot spots, even people who wouldotherwise be invisible.

Fayetteville Assistant Fire Chief Benny Nichols says it's the little fire or the missing victim that they hope to find. The helmet works by sensinga person or an object's heat. Once inside a building, a firefighter's eyes have to adjust to different heat indexes.

Nichols demonstrates the way heat remains in a body part. It's that heatperception that can reduce the amount of time needed at a fire scene, eventhe amount of damage firefighters cause trying to find hot spots. Moreimportantly, the infrared camera can help save a life that might otherwiswhave been lost in the smoke.

This technology doesn't come cheap. Just one infrared camera costs$25,000. Fayetteville's camera is one of about five in the state. Thedepartment is scheduled to get another sometime next year.

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