PANORAMA CITY, Calif. – Thermal imaging technology is contactless hardware that reads temperatures. It is part of the fight against COVID-19 as well as the Los Angeles Fire Department’s preparation for fire season.
LAFD purposefully installed Seek Scan systems at two training centers, including Fire Station 81 where new recruits are learning the basics. They chose these spots because they can’t risk any of the trainees getting sick and dropping out, especially right now while some firefighters are quarantined and fire season is coming.
“If we have just one department… Where we can’t fill all those fire engines, those trucks, or those ambulances to be able to respond to our daily calls, it’s going to be even more difficult to… Go out and help other agencies,” said Brock Larue who has been a firefighter and paramedic for 12 years.
Larue helped install Seek Scan at Fire Station 81.
Everyone who comes into the building gets tested. If Seek Scan says someone has a high temperature, they get tested again using a handheld thermometer. If that returns the same results, the recruit must get a COVID-19 test.
There’s almost 70 people in the class of recruits at Fire Station 81. They are in week four of a 22-week academy. Before the Seek Scan was up and running, Larue and the instructors took every person’s temperature with a hand-held thermometer and kept a handwritten log. It was so slow it almost derailed their schedule.
Assistant Chief Wade White says LAFD has made a lot of choices to keep their firefighters healthy.
“It’s paid off. Our count of members who have been exposed and actually received the COVID virus has been very minimal,“ said White.
Larue and firefighters at other stations must log their own temperatures every day on their phones.
White said each of the Seek Scan systems costs less than $2,200. Even after the pandemic ends, White says it will remain operational and part of the daily process for new recruits.