Winston-Salem firefighters now equipped with body cameras

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Local firefighters will be bringing you closer to the fires they fight than ever before.

"You'll be right there with us,” said Travis Franklin, of Winston-Salem Fire Department’s Rescue Company 1. “No matter where we're looking, you're going to be right there with us."

In the past, many times, you at home would only see the aftermath of the fires. But, that’s about to change.

"People don't get to see what we do at two and three o'clock in the morning,” Franklin said.

Starting Tuesday morning, body cameras were rolled out at stations 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 and 14; home to the city’s seven busiest companies. Each of those stations were provided with one camera each.

"You'll get a grasp of how we see things when we go into a fire,” Franklin said.

The cameras will be mounted on the firefighters’ helmets, and capture calls such as fires and entrapments from beginning to end. Medical calls will not be recorded, the city said.

Some of the videos will become available to the public on the fire department’s Twitter, @cityofwsfire.

"It's a great learning tool,” said Desmond Teal, of Company 4. “You can see the initial start of the fire."

Some of the firefighters respond to over 20 calls a day, meaning they forget some of the minor details of individual calls.

"Once we get available from one call we have to be ready for the next,” Teal added.

The video will be useful in helping them remember and reflect on them. They can also be used for training purposes for both new and current members.

"Nowadays everything's visual,” Franklin said. “You can tell somebody anything, but until they actually see something and visualize it for themselves, that's where the capture really comes into play."

The video can also be used as evidence for fire investigators, should arson be suspected. Evidentiary videos will be kept for a period of three years.

The cameras, which fully equipped cost about $300, will also be used as marketing and recruitment tools.