Last summer, the fire department in Geneva, Ill., a Chicago suburb, received a $9,500 grant from the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company’s Heritage program to purchase a thermal imaging camera. Such cameras, once viewed as luxury gadgets, are now considered important lifesaving tools by fire departments, though few can afford them. “We can use the camera to see more readily where the fire is seated, especially when there’s so much smoke you can’t see past the end of your nose,” says Steve Olson,...

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