“A firefighter’s job is to fight fires and save people,” said Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry, “and this will help us do those things better.”
The piece of equipment that Cherry was referring to is a inferred heat imaging unit that will allow firefighters to “see” heat through smoke and low vision situations. “Firefighters will be able to go into rooms and find the source of a fire even though there is a lot of smoke around,” said Cherry.
He said the relatively small hand-held unit also will give firefighters a chance to find hot spots that might flare up even though to the human eye an area might seem cold and provide no seeming threat of becoming an active fire. “With this we could spot that hot spot and put water on it to cool it down so it will not flare up,” said Cherry, “which is always a danger with any fire.”
The Tucumcari Fire Chief also pointed to the unit as a very useful life-saving device. “It is sensitive enough to pick up a person’s body heat,” said Cherry. “So if we go into a room filled with smoke and if there is an unconscious person in it, we can find him with this. This will read the heat signature of their body and we can go right to them.” The funds for the $11,135 heat imaging unit were donated by the Tucumcari Noon-day Lion’s Club; a group that, in fact, no longer exists.
According to the last head of the now defunct organization, Owen Loomis, when it was clear that the Noon-day Lions were going under, it was felt by the remaining membership that something should be done with the remaining money in the treasury that would benefit the community of Tucumcari rather than giving the funds to a national group or charity.
“So many of the old members were firemen,” said Loomis, “it was only natural that we ask Chief Cherry what he needed.” Loomis said the membership lists of the group read “like a combination of the fire department and Who’s Who in Tucumcari.”
“Everybody belonged, but there were a lot of firemen” said Loomis. “We’d be at a meeting and the fire siren went off and over half the people got up and left to go take care of the fire.”