Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Last modified at 10:53 p.m. on Monday, September 9, 2002
Council approves cameras--Items for firefighters

By Matt Galnor
Times-Union staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council last night unanimously approved fast-tracking $300,000 to provide thermal imaging cameras for the fire department.

The money will pay for about 30 cameras -- at $9,700 each -- and, the council waived its standard six-week process by approving the measure last night.

The cameras pick up differences in heat and are used to aid firefighters in searching for people in dark, smoke-filled buildings.

Typically, proposals before the council are discussed during committees where council members have plenty of time to ask questions and review financial aspects of the bill. Council President Jerry Holland asked his colleagues to forego that procedure for this purchase.

"I would've liked to had the time to get everybody on board, but I'd feel very guilty if there was a situation that occurred and we didn't have them [the cameras] when we could've had them," Holland said.

Councilman Jim Overton cast the only vote against waiving the committee hearings but stressed that he was in favor of the purchase.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department currently has two of the cameras. With the new equipment, the department plans to have one at every major fire scene, Fire Chief Ray Alfred said.

Staff writer Matt Galnor can be reached at (904) 359-4550 or via e-mail at mgalnorjacksonville.com.