Local fire department puts new life-saving gear to the test

LACY LAKEVIEW, Texas (KWTX) The Lacy Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department is the first team in the area to get its hands on new life-saving gear that will help firefighters save lives.

Photo By: Chelsea Edwards

They are also using the new technology to honor an old friend.

"He loved running into burning houses- that was his favorite!"

In the Lacy Lakeview firehouse, Brandy Hicks remembers her father, Bobby Hicks who was dedicated to serving others.

He spent nearly twenty years working for the city and volunteer firefighting.

He would often run from the city administration building to the firehouse to respond to an emergency call.

"We would go to Walmart and he would find a citizen and know that citizen and probably helped them," says Brandy.

On Valentine's Day, Bobby Hicks passed away of natural causes, but the Lacy-Lakeview volunteer firefighters have found a way to keep him on the team.

They’re at McLennan Community College’s six-story burn tower behind the Emergency Services Education building, trying out new thermal imaging masks.

"You'll see the temperature of the room. You'll see the flame above and the flame below," explains Lieutenant John Haigh.

"It will be a bright orange glow or just a soft orange glow. It'll let you know how close you are getting to the fire."

Inside the masks, there is a small screen that shows thermal readings that make it easier to navigate a burning building and detect people in danger.

"If there's a person in that room, it'll give us a glow and that'll let us know where the person is," says Haigh.

It also alerts firefighters if growing temperatures could lead to a room igniting into a flashover which would put them at risk.

Firefighters say it’s a major upgrade from the handheld scanners they’ve been using that oftentimes couldn’t detect through steel or glass.

The family of Bobby Hicks paid for one of the six new masks.

"He would have loved it," says his daughter.

"It allows them to get to people faster and that's what he would have wanted."

It’s been tagged with a shiny, metallic label and will stay assigned to a truck with the same emblem that reads, "In memory of Bobby Hicks".

"They keep his memory alive for us and with us," says Brandy thanking her father's comrades.

The designated mask is packed and ready to join firefighters in a new way to rescue and save lives throughout the city.

The five other masks were purchased through the Fire Association Fund, at around $1,100 apiece.

Currently, Lacy Lakeview is the only department in the three-county area to have them.