The Spavinaw Fire Department is taking big steps to modernize its old equipment. In addition to new respirators, helmets and boots, firefighters now have high-tech masks that allow them to see through smoke while rescuing people from fires.
Chief James Miller said when firefighters enter a burning building, visibility is extremely poor.
"This changes that completely. This is almost like turning on a light switch in a dark room," Miller said.
Miller said the Spavinaw volunteer fire department's new handheld thermal camera and two new masks equipped with thermal imaging helps firefighters see through dark, heavy smoke.
Assistant Chief Earl McCurdy said it gives entry teams a clear picture through a small built-in screen mounted inside the mask.
"Which makes it easier to find somebody that is down," McCurdy said.
Before this point, feeling around the walls inside a smoke-filled room was the best option to find people in need of rescuing.
Miller has been the chief for about a year. In that time, he and his team of nine volunteer firefighters have used previously untouched county funding to bring their department into the 21st century.
The masks are still new, so they haven't been used in the field yet, but when they are the department said it'll drastically improve its response.