St. Thomas Fire Chief Dave Gregory recalls going into a burning building unaware of what was in front of him.

“We did search and rescue by just feeling the wall and hope for the best,” said Gregory. “We walked around and we used our senses to do that.”

That was the past, and now the future has arrived.

“This device will give them a visual picture of what is in front of them,” said Gregory.

Wednesday morning, the St. Thomas Fire Department (STFD) became the first full-time department in Canada to receive the MSA LUNAR — it is designed improve firefighter safety from the moment the crew steps out of the truck.

St. Thomas Firefighter Macauley Goldsmith gets a demonstration on the new MSA LUNAR. The department just received 10 of them which will help improve their safety in the field. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)“It has a thermal imaging camera also known as a TIC,” said Rob McNeil, a supplier of the MSA LUNAR who gave a brief demonstration to the STFD Wednesday upon delivery of 10 units.

“It helps them locate different heat in the house, it will help find where the seed of the fire is itself, and helps them locate other fellow firefighters as well,” he said.

A GPS allows them to keep track of all other firefighters at all times, and command can keep everyone accounted for on scene. It will speed up rescue times, and improve safety for both residents and fire crews. The pack clips onto the strap of the firefighter, and has a retractable cord for easy use.

“This gives us the ability to do quicker search and rescue, keep track of our firefighter’s safety, and gives them an update on their air levels in their MSA packs,” Gregory added.

“If we come into a fire and we have victims inside, this will give us quick access to see exactly where we need to go and any inherent dangers like holes and floors or collapses or extreme heat conditions,” he added.

It also has an alarm system, so if a firefighter stops moving for 30 seconds it will activate the alarm. This would be helpful to locate a crew member who went down or fell through a floor.

The MSA LUNAR has GPS technology and a thermal imaging camera. From the moment the fire fighter exits the truck it begins tracking data like locations, extreme heat conditions and inherent dangers (Source: MSA). With 1,500 calls for service in St. Thomas, Ont. in the first five months of the year, the demands on firefighters in the Railway City are growing as fast as the its population.

With increased demand comes increased responsibility, and the department has plans to lead the way in this country when it comes to firefighter safety.

There are a number of fire departments in the U.S. who are using this technology as MSA is headquartered in Pennsylvania — St. Thomas is the first in Canada.

“This is a game changer,” said Gregory. “We’re trained better than anybody as far as I’m concerned, we have great equipment, and we have great support from our city. St. Thomas is growing and we want to be the best.”

Gregory says the team will be trained on the system next week. 


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