The Operation Round Up Impact:
Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory
When it comes to community safety, firefighters stand as frontline defenders, tackling a demanding job that goes beyond the immediate emergencies. They play a crucial role in safeguarding lives and property from the destructive force of fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2022, 1,504,500 fires resulted in 3,790 civilian deaths and 13,250 injuries. There were also 96 on-duty firefighter deaths that year in the United States. These figures underscore the significance of the firefighting profession in mitigating the impact of fire-related incidents.
Recently we visited with Miles Waters, a firefighter from the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory. We spoke with Waters about some of the challenges faced by his team and how they keep the community’s safety at the forefront of every decision they make. Last year, the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory was a recipient of the Operation Round Up grant facilitated by Kosciusko REMC and the Kosciusko County Community Foundation.
Waters shared how the grant allowed them to acquire eight new Seek thermal imaging cameras, increasing their firefighting efficiency. It was Waters who initiated the pursuit of the grant after an on-the-job incident that did not sit well him.
“We had an incident last January,” Waters began. “We only had one of these on each truck. Essentially, we only had three of these at a scene. We had a fire, and I bypassed somebody because I didn’t see them,” revealed Waters.
Waters went on to describe the situation on the scene that day and how the thermal imaging cameras came into play. “The other guy on the truck had one but he was facing the opposite direction. He was scanning one side of the room, and I was searching the other,” remembered Waters.
“I went right past her.” Waters paused a moment before continuing. “So, that’s what motivated me to get more.”
Waters felt that the woman would have been located sooner if there were more thermal imaging cameras. “I started looking around at grants locally and found the Operation Round Up grant,” Waters said.
Waters credited Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Chief’s Assistant Shirley Fetrow and EMS Chief Chris Fancil with helping him get the ball rolling with the grant application.
Thermal imaging cameras contribute significantly to firefighting efforts. Thermal imaging technology aids in detecting hidden fire sources, locating victims, and improving overall situational awareness. For the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory, this means a substantial improvement in their ability to respond to emergencies effectively.
“It’s multi-use so we can see at night. People lost in the field, or out in the woods. It picks up all that heat signature,” Waters explained. “We can take still-shot photos with it. As I’m scanning, I can record,” he added.
Waters described how the technology also aids in investigations. “It helps them narrow down the source of the fire, and pinpoint where it started,” he said.
The Operation Round Up grant helped the fire territory acquire eight Seek thermal imaging cameras last summer, which was hugely impactful.
“It more than tripled what we had. So now everybody who is working has one of these. All twelve of us have these,” Waters emphasized. “It makes life a lot easier. They’re small and out of the way.”
The team still makes use of the thermal imaging cameras the fire territory already owned. The original cameras are very powerful but also much bulkier. According to Waters, firefighters wear somewhere between 75 to 80 lbs. of gear on their person.
“Add the tools you’re carrying, and they can be dragging 150 lb. around,” he said.
Waters said nine out of ten times the firefighters at Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory are grabbing the new Seek thermal imaging cameras first.
The Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory has more operational needs that Waters hopes to see addressed soon. When asked about the most important needs on their agenda, he was forthright with two answers.
First, more firefighters. “We’re always looking for help. There is a need for firefighters,” Waters said.
“We are also in the schools educating kids about fire safety as well as firefighting as a career,” continued Waters. “We are proactive and want to stay proactive.”
The next need Waters addressed is an important one that he hopes to find funding for sooner rather than later.
“Smoke detectors for the hearing impaired and also carbon monoxide detectors,” Waters revealed. “That is something we would like to obtain grant money for to help distribute throughout the county.”
He’s especially interested in filling the need for smoke detectors for the hearing-impaired. “We can’t just go to Lowe’s and grab some of those,” explained Waters.
As far as traditional smoke detectors go, Waters would like the community to remember that they can get them for free from the Fire Territory. “In fact, we will come help you install them if needed,” Waters added.
In the face of challenges, the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory has always exemplified the resilience and adaptability required in the firefighting profession. The role the Fire Territory plays in our community is hugely important – literally lifesaving.
Firefighter Miles Waters identified a crucial need that was able to be addressed with the help of Kosciusko REMC’s Operation Round Up grant. It is only because of our cooperative’s membership that the Operation Round Up program continues to thrive. We recognize and we hope our readers recognize the tangible difference community support can make in ensuring the safety of both firefighters and the public they serve. To learn more about the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and their programs visit https://warsaw.in.gov/116/Fire-Territory.