The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department received a grant for $10,000 from Baltimore Gas & Electric last week to purchase a new thermal imager for the station on Southwestern Boulevard.

The Fire Department was one of 40 organizations in BGE's central Maryland service area to receive grants totaling approximately $318,000 as part of BGE's commitment to communities.

BGE awarded grants to seven organizations in Anne Arundel County; four in Baltimore City; 19 in Baltimore County; four in Prince George's County; three in Harford County; and one in Carroll, Howard and Montgomery counties to fund programs or equipment purchases.

"BGE naturally has a strong appreciation for the critically important role volunteer emergency response and safety organizations play throughout the state of Maryland and BGE's service area, in particular," said Kenneth DeFontes Jr., BGE president and CEO, in a release.


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According to BGE spokesman Rachael Lighty, the company is, "committed to maintaining charitable giving over $7 million per year," for the next 10 years as part of an outreach program to strengthen emergency response, safety and preparedness programs in the area.

"We understand the critically important role that they play for our area in particular," Lighty said.

Fire Department Capt. Doug Simpkins said the grant money will provide the station with a much-needed piece of equipment.

The thermal imager allows firefighters to scan through building walls for areas where the blaze is burning hottest.

"This device will assist us in locating hot spots," Simpkins said. "While at the same time, your body gives off a certain amount of heat, even in the dead of winter S... if you were standing in front of me with this camera, it would give off a real white glow. It's detecting the heat. So if we have a fireman who's fallen under some debris, we use this camera to scan [for them]."

The department now has three thermal imagers, one on each fire truck and one on their new rescue truck. The BGE grant paid for the newest one and a grant from Firehouse Subs paid for another.

The money saved by the grants allows Simpkins to purchase new fire coats, uniforms and tools for the department that he might not have been able to buy otherwise.

"$10,000, that's a lot of pancakes to flip, a lot of nights of bingo that we sponsor over at the Fire Department," Simpkins said.

"We can now allocate $20,000 of the company's money for stuff for the fire house."

Lighty said grant applicants had to demonstrate that their funds would be used for emergency response improvement.

"The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department requested a grant to purchase a thermal imager for their fire equipment," Lighty said. "That clearly meets the requirement to having a commitment to improving the emergency response in our communities."

Simpkins said he's very grateful for the opportunity BGE provided him and the Fire Department.

"It's a great partnership," Simpkins said. "We're just lucky to have BGE who considers themselves part of the community, just like the Volunteer Fire Department."