Bangor’s firefighters will soon be maneuvering through fires using a new, modern set of thermal imaging cameras, courtesy of celebrity authors Stephen and Tabitha King.
The fire department plans to replace four of its five thermal imaging cameras, which allow firefighters to see through heavy smoke and identify fire hotspots, using a $30,000 donation from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, according to Bangor Fire Chief Tom Higgins.
“It’s an aid for them. It’s another tool in the toolbox,” said Higgins. The Kings “are kind people who want to give back to the community and we are appreciative of what they do.”
A representative for the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation did not immediately return a phone message on Monday.
Over the past 30 years, Bangor’s most famous couple has given millions to cities, towns and organizations throughout the state through their foundation. In 2015 it gave about 150 grants totaling almost $3 million to schools, towns, churches, libraries, theaters, museums, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, health centers, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and a host of other charities and organizations across Maine, according to its 990 form.
Bangor has often been the recipient of several significant King family donations over the years. In 2013, the Kings donated $3 million to help pay for the $9 million renovation of Bangor Public Library and funded other million projects including the construction of Mansfield Stadium in 1991 and Beth Pancoe Pool in the early 2000’s.
The Bangor Fire Department received about $20,000 in 2015 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation for the purchase of specialized washer-dryer equipment, which wash carcinogens and other harmful substances from firefighters’ turnout gear and clothes.
The latest donation allows the fire department to replace thermal imaging cameras that were purchased in 2009, Higgins said. Those cameras allow firefighters to see objects through heavy smoke and the temperatures of various sections of a burning building. The new, more technologically advanced models are lighter than their current cameras and have clearer images, said Higgins.
Assuming the city council votes to accept the grant at a future meeting, Higgins expects the cameras to be purchased and put in use within the next 60 days.