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‘Teachable Moments’: Helmet Cams for Firefighters

Helmet cam training

In the heat of the moment, fire can move fast and firefighters react on instinct. It can be hard to catch details or remember sequences of events after the emergency is over. Teams and captains can now use helmet cams for better analysis and training after the event.

“It’s a huge teaching tool for not only our folks but for the public as well so they can understand what type of situations these guys are in and what we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” said Mike Wapnowski, Deputy Chief of Stanislaus Consolidated District in Modesto, CA.

The Modesto department started using the special heat-resistant Fire Cams about two years ago for training purposes, and now even shares some of the dramatic footage on its Facebook page.  In one video,

“I like being able to record it and watch it,” Wapnowski said. “Sometimes the cameras will pick up stuff that I didn’t notice or I just forgot, like instead of the door being open I kicked it open.”

The videos have made their way to media coverage of fires. Videos from a semi-truck fire, a structure fire, and response to a vehicle collision and fire have all been featured online and in media. Showing viewers what firefighters face during an emergency has drawn lots of support and encouragement on the Stanislaus Facebook page.

But the real value for departments is training to fight fires more effectively. Crews debrief after an incident to review what each person did, how the fire reacted, and what they could have done differently as a team. Wapnowski wants to incorporate the videos into academy training as well.

Read more about how Stanislaus firefighters are using helmet cams to improve training at the GovTech article or follow the Stanislaus Consolidated District on Facebook, or see example of helmet cam videos on their YouTube channel.

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