Donations help Dunkirk firefighters

Things are a little bit safer now for firefighters in the city of Dunkirk as a result of an equipment upgrade. The city of Dunkirk Fire Department recently received donations that helped toward the purchase of a new thermal imaging camera for the department.

Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom was present Tuesday at the James J. Murphy Firemen’s Training Grounds on Brigham Road to thank the members of the two organizations that helped make the purchase possible.

“The Elks Club and the Dunkirk Volunteer Firemen’s Association approached me on making a donation and we decided on purchasing another thermal imaging camera for the department. They are putting in about $4,500 of the total cost on a $6,000 piece of equipment, a piece of equipment that we found to be just essential to have in the department,” Ahlstrom told the OBSERVER. “We use it to locate fires, we use it for search and rescue. It really has been just a piece that people that are entering the building they clip it on to their coat and they have it ready to use whenever they need it. This is going to be the third camera that we have. We found in the past that we have had situations where we had to pass the camera from first floor to second floor to basement; inside to outside. With three cameras in service we should be able to give each of our crews a camera so we don’t have the delay. It’s really greatly appreciated by the fire department that these two organizations have stepped up to help us out.”

Ahlstrom said the camera is another piece of safety equipment the department uses.

“We take this in on every call. If we have a call that a smoke detector is going off we take the camera in with us,” he stated.

“We’ve used it to find electrical problems within a wall; problems in lights, problems with the electrical service coming into the house. It’s just amazing We’ve used it find extension cords that are overheating,” he added. “It really is a very, very important piece of equipment and the technology has improved so much in the last 10 or 12 years. We went from a camera that weighs seven to 10 pounds to one that weighs a pound, so it just makes it that much easier to use and that much more essential to what we do.

“The cameras are rechargeable and stay in the fire trucks. They’re always recharged; we do have spare batteries for each of them. The life on this would be multiple hours of continuous use, so for most situations you’re not going to have to change batteries. But if you had a situation where you were out for maybe 8-10 hours at a time, we do have spare batteries so you would never be without a power source for it.”

David VanWey, Hose Company No. 1 and President of the Volunteer Firefighters Association; James “Turk” Murphy, president of Hook and Ladder and Pioneers; Edgar Ziegler Treasurer and Murray Hose No. 4 representative; Richard Titus, a member of Hose Co. No. 1 and the Dunkirk Elks; Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom; Duane Gilbert, Exalted Ruler of Elks Dunkirk Lodge 922; Sam Fote, Elks Club secretary and Larry Haase, Elks Club trustee were present as Ahlstrom explained the new piece of equipment and thanked the donors.

Send comments on this story to