It was an easy sell to Carlo Rossi, a 71-year-old retired auto assembly worker whose longtime girlfriend volunteered for many years for their local fire department in Riviera Beach.
For $18,000, their fire station could buy a device that would help firefighters rescue people in smoke-filled houses when visibility is limited. The device would enable them to find the source of a fire, saving people and property faster than before.
Though not wealthy, Rossi donated the money so that the Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Department could buy the county's first thermal imager, a camera that detects heat sources.
Battalion Chief John M. Scholz said firefighters hope the county will budget funds to buy more thermal imaging cameras. The initial cost would be about $85,000 for five cameras, one in each battalion car. The department would like to own 14 cameras to keep one in each station that has engine trucks, he said.
Other fire departments have begun to use the cameras. In Baltimore County last month, fire officials used one to search for trapped workers when a concrete wall collapsed in Woodlawn. The Anne Arundel County police aviation unit uses a thermal imaging camera to help police on the ground find suspects in the dark.