Firefighters seek money for new equipment |

Firefighters seek money for new equipment

Susan Wood

South Lake Tahoe firefighters may be holding their breath in the hopes the City Council will approve today a $12,351 match for more emergency services tools in its arsenal.

And if approved, they’re also expecting no hitches on the Federal Emergency Management Agency coming through with the grant’s pledged amount of $111,164 after being tapped out with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“It will be interesting to see what happens,” fire department Battalion Chief Russ Dow said Monday.

The FEMA money is earmarked to replace 28 face masks, air packs and a thermal imaging camera that allows firefighters to see through heavy smoke like that during a fire that broke out at South Tahoe Refuse a month ago. Dow said it was difficult to find the source in the murky, smoky conditions.

“It does more than find (victims). You can find hidden fires,” he said.

The infrared camera may also be used to locate people by picking up body heat. It can even detect submerged victims in bodies of water.

The crew received training on the unit after Soroptimist International of Tahoe put up the majority of the $10,000 in private donations to buy the department’s first unit in August.

The grant was written and submitted by the El Dorado County Office of Emergency Services as part of requirements passed down from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The air packs come equipped with radio units, so firefighters may communicate with each other while they’re maneuvering through a wildland fire scene or structure blaze.

— Also on the agenda, the City Council will hear a report from its Planning Commission on the beleaguered sign ordinance. The council asked the commission about a month ago to review the policy to see if it’s necessary to revamp. The Planning Commission concluded a few weeks ago that the code appears to be working considerably well under the Police Department’s rule.

Today’s council meeting starts at 9 a.m. at council chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

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