Dubbed the single most important piece of lifesaving equipment, Eagle Bank donated 12 new thermal imaging cameras to area fire departments this week.
The company, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, wanted to support the community in some way, said Mike Walsh, CEO of Eagle Bank and Trust Company.
“We talked to mayors, city administrators, police and fire chiefs to find out what they needed,” Walsh said at the Mehlville Fire Protection District's camera presentation on Thursday. “Each one had a story on how this piece of equipment has helped them preserve life or property in a fire.”
Bank representatives worked with Mehlville Fire Assistant Chief Brian Hendricks, who told them the importance of the heat-seeking cameras.
“We can go in and spot people and firefighters in smoke when we wouldn’t normally be able to see them,” he said. “We can find electrical problems and see hot spots in walls.”
Walsh said firefighters told him that the cameras completely change the tactics of how they attack a fire and strategize during search and rescue missions.
“It speeds up navigation greatly,” he said. “Brian said this is something every community needs, so that’s what we wanted to give.”
The Bullard Eclipse thermal imaging cameras each cost about $5,000 and were given to 12 fire departments.
Police departments will also use the cameras when working with firefighters, or during automobile accidents.
“We work with firefighters a lot, and would use the cameras if we went in with them,” said Capt. Michael Dierkes with the St. Louis County Affton Police Precinct.
Most fire departments have some type of thermal imaging camera, but several are older and larger than the new model by Bullard.
“We had no idea it had all these applications when we were looking into it,” Walsh said. “It’s as much about them as it is about us.”