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Fire Department gets early Christmas gift

LAWRENCEVILLE - Firefighters in Gwinnett County say they received an early Christmas present Thursday.

Firefighters and representatives from the Insuramerica Corp. and Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. gathered at the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services in Lawrenceville as the department was awarded nearly $12,000 from Fireman's Fund to purchase a thermal imaging camera.

The grant is a part of the nationwide commitment by Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. to provide needed equipment, training and education tools for fire departments.

"We began (the fireman's fund) in 2004 and have since given nearly $10 million in grants across the country," said Brian Richards, assistant vice president of sale for the Fireman's Fund Insurance.

The grant helps fire departments across the nation purchase needed equipment stations may not otherwise be able to afford.

"This is a way of supporting and giving back to the community I do business in," said Frank Jakes, CEO of Insuramerica Corporation in Loganville.

Lt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services, said the new camera will be a welcomed addition to the nearly 11 cameras already strategically placed on fire engines throughout the county.

The thermal imaging cameras enable firefighters to see through smoke and darkness to rescue smoke-hidden victims and target hot spots inside walls of burning structures.

"This is an early Christmas present for our department, and no doubt we will use this (camera) to save lives," Rutledge said.

Fire Chief Steve Rolader said the cameras are additional life saving tools and the camera purchased with the grant money will be placed on Engine 10 of the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

"This is an invaluable piece of equipment," Rolader said. "If we save one life with this tool it's worth 10 million-fold the donation they gave."

Rutledge said his goal is to have a camera on every fire apparatus the department has.

"(These cameras) take firefighting and search and rescue to the next level," Rutledge said. "These cameras are worth their weight in gold," said Rutledge.