New cameras make driving Boca firetrucks safer

Posted at 8:14 PM, Mar 07, 2016

Boca Raton firefighters are the first in Florida to use new technology making it safer and easier to maneuver in about out of emergency scenes.

Last week, the department installed a new camera system on its five ladder trucks. Next, the department wants to install the system on its ten ambulances.

"If we don't get to a call safely, we're not there to help people safely," explains Assistant Chief Michael LaSalle.

Here's how the Backeye 360 system works: Four wide-angle cameras are installed on the each side of the vehicle.

The cameras create a birds-eye view that shows 360-degrees around the vehicle; cutting out the blind spots. 

The cameras connect to a monitor in the cabin, providing the driver with a real-time feed of what's going on outside.

They would be able to show if there is a car in another lane, or a person behind the truck.

"We want to be the trendsetter," says LaSalle. "If it could save one accident or one person from getting hurt, it's well worth the money."

LaSalle says one accident played a part in the department's decision to invest in this technology. In 2014, Capt. Mike McBrien collapsed at an emergency on Thanksgiving Day. A fire truck accidentally backed over his leg.

"Anything we can do to prevent accidents with our members or the public, we're all for it," LaSalle says, adding he hopes other departments follow their lead.

Firefighters will continue to stand behind trucks, helping drivers back out of areas, or turn around. These cameras should be used as an additional safety measure.

The department spent $14,000 outfitting its ladder trucks.

Now, the chief is requesting to purchase ten more systems for a total of $28,500.

Palm Beach County would reimburse the city for those costs using money it received through the state's EMS Grant Program.

The city council is expected to vote whether to approve the purchase at its meeting Tuesday evening.

LaSalle says McBrien fully recovered from the 2014 incident and is still working with the department.