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Jason Moore
Fire Chief
Bloomington Fire Department


National Video Spotlights Bloomington Fire Department's Enhanced Capacity for Saving Lives

Bloomington, Ind. - The Bloomington Fire Department (BFD)’s pioneering use of emerging technology to save lives is being showcased in a promotional video produced by 3M Scott Safety and distributed by Bloomberg News. The video, shot in Bloomington in late September, highlights the first rescue accomplished by BFD after equipping its firefighters with the 3M Scott Safety Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), which provides fresh air when entering fire conditions.  

The SCBA mask used by the Bloomington firefighters is equipped with Scott Sight, a hands-free thermal imaging camera (TIC). Using this technology, a firefighter can see through smoke without having to hold a traditional TIC, thus providing situational awareness while keeping hands free. An added bonus of the Scott Sight is its cost -- approximately one-tenth that of a traditional device -- putting this efficiency-improving technology within reach.

The video depicts the events of August 31, 2017. “It was just an average day, a typical day,” recalls Fire Chief Jason Moore in the video. After receiving a report of a fire on South Fess Avenue, the department’s Gold (A) Shift led by Battalion Chief Roger Kerr was dispatched to the two-story multi-family building to fight flames emerging from a first-floor bedroom. “When someone calls and gives a report of someone being inside a burning building, it transitions your thought process,”  Moore explains in the short film. “There’s either going to be something great that happens, or it’s going to be a tragedy.”

Once inside a structure fire crews typically experience zero visibility;  using their TICs, however, they are able to locate occupants and pets much faster than using the traditional blind search method.  Patrick McCarthy, who appears in the video, was transported to IU Health Hospital by ambulance personnel after BFD crews located and rescued him. Firefighters quickly ascertained that no additional residents remained in the structure and contained and extinguished the fire. There were no casualties as a result of the fire, and the structure was salvaged.

“The new technology saves seconds, minutes off of a rescue,” said Moore. “That is the difference between somebody taking their last breath and walking away the next day.”

An increase in the department’s 2017 budget allowed BFD to equip every operational firefighter -- 99 total -- with the new 3M Scott technology, making it the first department of its size in the world to have done so, and the largest to date. Since adding the specially equipped masks, increasing training and making other significant equipment upgrades, the department has successfully rescued seven civilians.

“As this story illustrates vividly, it’s not about tech, it’s about people,” said Mayor John Hamilton.  “Every dollar allocated in the budget for equipment or training needs to be considered against the preciousness of every life.  I’m deeply grateful to the Bloomington firefighters and all of community’s emergency personnel for their commitment to public safety, and their expertise about the most effective life-saving tools.”

The equipment upgrades were made more affordable through the department’s research and due diligence, allowing BFD to access competitive pricing normally reserved for larger departments.

“I know that if I protect my people, that they protect the public,” said Moore. “All the training, all the preparation, all the equipment we’ve been buying--everything came together that day and Pat’s here because of it.”