New equipment helps Altoona Fire Department fight fires safer, faster

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ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — It can be difficult when fire crews arrive at an active scene. They have to stabilize their truck with outriggers before doing anything else, which can be time consuming without new 360-degree cameras inside their truck.

“Stuff that would take us maybe 20-30 seconds can take a second just taking a look,” James Campbell, Ladder Truck Captain for Altoona Fire Department, said.

To start ventilating a building, only one firefighter could go in the bucket onto the roof.”

“We weren’t able to be on the roof together. Now we actually work as a team,” Campbell said.

A bigger bucket means less wasted time.

“These type of technology again make it much safer for us doing the job more efficient which means we can get to people faster,” Tim Hileman, Chief of Altoona Fire Department, said.

The air cylinders hold more air, while also pairing with a tablet that shows how much it left.

“We have a lot more work time with these packs, I will say that, so it gives up more time to get stuff done before we have to go back out and refill,” Campbell said.

Thermal imaging cameras read surface temperatures, so if firefighters can’t see through the smoke, they can still find anyone trapped inside and get them to safety. The department said the camera is a helpful tool if little ones are scared and trying to hide.

“If we’re able to sweep a room real quick and be able to find where you can see body, that makes it very effective and we can get them and get them out to safety,” Ryan Gromley, firefighter at Altoona Fire Department, said.

All of the new equipment was made possible through different funding and grants. The new ladder truck was a part of the department’s Fleet Rotation Program and the thermal imaging cameras were paid for through the Office of State Fire Commissioners Grant.

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