Bloomington Department Featured in 3M Promo Video
BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY
For firefighters, a minute or two can spell the difference between saving lives and ghastly tragedies. Unfortunately, modern construction materials have made firefighting even more difficult. “Back in the ’70s and ’80s, we had about 14 minutes to get to a fire before the structure was unlivable,” Bloomington Fire Department (BFD) Fire Chief Jason Moore explains. “Today, with all the petroleum products and the plastics, we’re looking at between four to six minutes before the structure becomes uninhabitable.”
To buy extra time and to save lives, in 2017 the BFD outfitted all of its firefighters with new, in-mask thermal imaging technology. Developed by 3M, the Scott Sight system includes a side-mounted thermal camera connected to a miniaturized display inside each mask’s face shield. “In a legitimate house fire, you can’t see anything,” Moore says. “It’s not like what you see in the movies or on TV.”
But with built-in thermal imaging? “You can kind of gather a snapshot of what that room looks like,” he says. “If there is a person in there, they show up really well on thermal imagers. Every Bloomington firefighter now has the ability to see what’s going on and what’s in the room—if there’s someone in the room or a pet or anything.”
Bloomington is the only department of its size in the nation to have such widespread use of in-mask thermal imaging. What’s more, Bloomington provides 3M with ongoing product feedback, improvement recommendations, and success stories. For instance, a few months after initially adopting the technology, firefighters were able to use it to save Bloomington resident Patrick McCarthy. Now, both McCarthy’s rescue and Bloomington’s implementation of Scott Sight feature prominently in a promotional video. BFD has had additional rescues using Scott Sight since the 2018 filming.
Although the life-saving technology isn’t cheap, each unit costs about one-tenth of the price of large, hand-held thermal imagers. “We’re doing everything we can to get there sooner,” Moore notes. “We need you to do everything you can to give us time to get you.”
That means installing and checking smoke detectors and sleeping with the bedroom door closed to delays a fire’s entry. “Put those together and what we have is a really good dynamic to actually save lives,” Moore says.
To see the 3M video featuring the BFD, visit magbloom.com/3mscott.