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New Masks for Firefighters

BERWICK -- The Berwick Fire Department is made up of four volunteer fire companies.

Chief Randy Remphrey stresses the importance of safety for not only the public but for the firefighters, too.

"That's what we're here for. That's what we strive on, safety and the public's safety," Remphrey said.

That's why Remphrey says it's important to stay on top of cutting-edge equipment. About two weeks ago, the Berwick Fire Department got new breathing masks with thermal imaging cameras inside.

"It would show all the heat sources of people, animals, fires," Remphrey said.

The cameras allow firefighters to see human and animal shapes inside burning buildings, as well as hot spots. It makes search and rescue easier.

This mask is literally a combination of these two pieces of equipment. It combines them so firefighters are able to keep their hands free for other activities. Previously the firefighters used these hand-held cameras. The chief says this new equipment will speed up searches.

"We don't have to keep looking down at the camera, the hand-held one. This is right in our face piece," Remphrey said.

The Berwick Fire Department got 12 of these masks, which cost close to $30,000. They were paid for by a grant through the Pennsylvania Fireman's Relief Association. The organization is geared toward ensuring the safety of firefighters. Berwick residents like Dorothy Yost tell Newswatch 16 they feel safer knowing their firefighters have this technology.

"I think that's great. If it's going to help people and save lives, I think it's wonderful," Dorothy Yost said.

Firefighters in Berwick have not had to use the new masks yet, but they have been training with them.