Mankato firefighters now equipped with thermal camera technology

Mankato firefighters are now equipped with handheld thermal cameras, a modern, life-saving tool with numerous benefits.

The technology can save lives by helping firefighters make more informed decisions during fire events and search and rescue operations.

Mankato firefighters wearing their new thermal cameras

The city says the cameras are light, durable, and waterproof, and can be used to reduce rescue times by quickly locating victims or downed firefighters in smokey environments. The cameras can also help firefighters self-rescue by identifying cool spots, windows, or the fire hose line in zero visibility.

“The technology is really fantastic,” says Mankato Public Safety Associate Director Jeff Bengston as he reflected on previous equipment. “The first camera we got was in around 1996.  I believe it cost about $15,000 and it was the size of a toaster,” he said.  The new camera are essentially small enough to be held in hand, he says.

Other features include:

  • Assess scenes to better fight fires by locating heat-related clues such as fire in walls or hot spots caused by electrical shorts.
  • Investigate hazardous material situations from a safe distance and see levels in pressurized tanks to make more informed decisions.
  • Use heat signals to find victims during non-fire search and rescue operations.
  • View heat levels to train new and current firefighters to understand fire dynamics and ventilation techniques.

Seventy cameras were purchased to outfit every firefighter on the City’s staff and will be issued as part of the required personal protective equipment for firefighters and worn on all required service calls.

The cameras cost about $500 each, and require little to zero maintenance, according to Bengston.



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