Camera Gives New Eyes To Firefighters

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The Pine-Strawberry Fire Department will soon have its first thermal-imaging camera thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and the hard work of a firefighter.

"We expect it to arrive Oct. 2 and it'll be our first one," said Pine-Strawberry firefighter Bill Potter, who took it upon himself to begin a Fill The Boot campaign to raise enough money to purchase the camera.

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Pine-Strawberry Fire Board members Sherry Machemer, Ross Gooder and Dan McKinney present firefighter Bill Potter with a check for $5,000, a donation from a family who wished to remain anonymous. The money will go toward purchasing a new thermal imaging unit needed by the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department.

Potter's campaign began with the arrival of summer. He traveled throughout Pine and Strawberry placing a firefighter's boot in 12 public locations. Along with the boot was an appeal to fill it with donations that would be used to buy the camera.

He also solicited the support of the Strawberry Elite public service organization and headed bake sales and raffles at the Pine arts and craft shows and the Strawberry Festival.

When all the proceeds were in, Potter had raised $10,647.50 -- more than enough to purchase the camera.

Along with the money the boot campaign brought in, a family -- who asked to remain anonymous -- donated $5,000.

"Their home in Phoenix was saved by the use of a thermal image camera," Pine-Strawberry Public Information Officer Stacy Parkerson said.

That anonymous donation gave the fire department almost enough money to purchase a second camera.

For Potter, securing the cameras is an essential firefighting tool.

"They give us eyes where we don't have eyes," he said. "In a smoke-filled environment, we will be able to see."

Although most public safety departments have thermal-imaging cameras, the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department did not have the budget to purchase one until Potter stepped up.

Pine-Strawberry Fire Board members Sherry Machemer, Ross Gooder and Dan McKinney said they are grateful to Potter, the many generous people who donated to the boot, and to the anonymous donor.

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