Grocery store aids firefighters through raffle

Thermal imaging cameras to be bought

By CHARLES RUNNELLS, crunnells@news-press.com


In a smoked-filled house, anyone could be hidden just beyond sight. A man with a broken leg. A child passed out from smoke inhalation.

Firefighters never can be sure they’ve found everybody during a house fire. But thermal imaging cameras can pierce the darkness and ultimately save lives.

The visor-mounted cameras spot body heat and even pinpoint hidden flames inside walls, said Tom Tomich, acting operations chief for the Cape Coral Fire Department.

“We use these to make sure there aren’t any kids in closets or people under beds,” Tomich said. “We use these on about every structure fire we go to.”

The Cape fire department already has two such cameras, but officials want five more — one for each of the seven fire stations. The cameras are expensive, though — about $10,000 each.

That’s why a Cape grocery store is raising money to help buy firefighters a new thermal imaging camera.

And they hope to do it with beer.

The Albertson’s Food & Drug store at 127 Cape Coral Parkway is raffling an $800 Sanyo Kegerator beer keg refrigerator.

“You’ll have cold beer on tap all the time,” said liquor store manager Linda De La Cruz. “And this is right before Father’s Day. I’m sure any dad would want to have a Kegerator.”

The winner will be drawn Friday, June 13. Tickets are available at the store until then.

Albertson’s received the Kegerator through a Molsen Beer promotion. De La Cruz said firefighters deserve the raffle money as much as anybody.

“They’re out there helping other people all the time,” she said. “So why not help them?”

The thermal cameras consist of a video camera with a pistol grip and a screen that fits over a firefighter’s face mask — allowing firefighters to see both the inside of the house and the infrared radiation given off by flames and living things.

So far, the store has sold about 150 raffle tickets at $1 each. That’s a far cry from the 5,000 it planned to raise toward the camera.

“We’re hoping to sell a lot more between now and next Friday,” De La Cruz said.

Tomich said he’d be happy for any help the department could get.

“This is an expensive piece of technology,” he said. “But it’ll be a big advantage to anyone who’s trapped in a fire.”

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