An alternative use for expensive thermal imaging cameras area fire departments now use for fires could well end up helping homeowners during a potential heating crisis this winter.
The Dresden Fire Dept. discovered a while ago how to detect heat loss using one of the two thermal imaging camera firefighters have been using to detect heat at fires ever since acquiring them through grants, according to Fire Chief Gerald Lilly.
“We might as well use them for something other than just fires,” he said.
The department owns a smaller unit, costing about $20,000 that it purchased with matching funds, and a larger one costing about $30,000, which the department obtained through a Homeland Security grant.
“You can see the heat coming right out of the house,” he said.
The fire department discovered the innovative potential use for the cameras when examining the condition of the present firehouse on Rt. 128.
“That was one reason we thought we’d better build a new station,” Lilly said.
This fall there has been a lot of talk and activity throughout the state about the need for people to better winterize their homes to save on heating bills in anticipation of a costly winter for a many people. Various volunteer groups and state funds have been available this year to help people winterize their homes.
This is the first time in this area at least where such a unique idea has been suggested. Local firemen have confidence it will work.
“We’ll probably give it a test run,” Lilly said.
So far the department has not received any calls for firemen to use the cameras at any local homes since announcement of the offer to residents appeared in the local community newsletter, The Dresden Communicator.
“Hopefully people will take advantage of it,” Lilly said.
Firemen will use the camera to find areas of homes where heat is escaping, and the homeowners can then take steps to prevent it. The cameras are expected to detect places not ordinarily thought of as areas where heat leaks out of building which would also allow cold air into structures.
Lilly believes the uses of the cameras should work now with no heat on in the homes, since the inside houses usually are warmer than outside temperatures. However, it should work better with the heat on in the homes.
The town is also taking other measures this year because of anticipating heating cost increases, such as additional funds for general assistance. In June, voters increased the amount for general assistance, which can help need people with the purchase of fuel this winter.
Last year the amount voted was $5000 to which the town added $2800 in surplus general assistance funds. This year the town voted to appropriate $7000 and has $3600 in surplus funds to add to the amount.
“I don’t believe anybody is going to freeze this winter,” said Trudy Foss, administrative assistant.
Foss said if people are not eligible for local general assistance because they are on the borderline, help is available. People can get help locally from another source if they are truly in need.