Firefighters turn to cameras for visual record of their responses

Big Brother isn’t watching Flin Flon firefighters in action, but digital cameras are.

The fire department recently installed dash cams on its vehicles to provide a video record of incidents for training, investigative and liability purposes.

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“[Dash cams are] starting to take a hold quite a bit now with departments,” said Fire Chief Chad Cooper.

Cooper installed dash cams in both of the department’s fire engines as well as his emergency response truck.

He will park his truck at each scene so the windshield-focused camera can record the duration of a blaze or other emergency involving a fire department response.

The cameras in the fire engines will be used mainly to record the drive to a scene, which could be helpful if an accident occurs and there is a question of who is at fault, and the initial response to an incident.

Footage from all three cameras can protect the department against legal action if there is a question about how they responded to an incident.

Cooper said the footage is also useful for training firefighters and investigating how a blaze started.

He will keep all footage, complete with audio, on file.

“Basically after every call, I download the videos and attach [the files] to my computer-based fire reporting system,” Cooper said.

The small cameras begin recording as soon as the vehicle is turned on. It was an inexpensive upgrade for the department, as Cooper found the dash cams on sale for $75 each.

Beginning in the spring, the fire department will also equip captains with helmet cams, providing up-close footage of each incident, including the interior of burning buildings.

Cooper said this footage will also aid training and could be used for promotional efforts such as “year in review” compilation videos.

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