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Helmet cameras raise concerns

By John Palminteri, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Senior Reporter, johnp1250@aol.com
Published On: Aug 19 2013 08:16:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 19 2013 08:39:31 PM CDT

A controversy is brewing in San Francisco over the use of helmet cameras by the Fire Department, but locally no changes are being made to the use of the technology.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The San Francisco Fire Chief has banned the use of helmet cameras for now, after a controversy involving video and still images from the recent Asiana plane crash.  Similar cameras remain in use in Santa Barbara County.

Local fire officials say the cameras can be very valuable in training sessions.

The producers of the TV show  On Duty, which airs on KEYT NewsChannel 3, say the video from those cameras goes through a close review by a team that includes the fire chief and a firefighters union leader.

Executive producer Ira Distenfield says privacy and sensitivity to the victims is important.

The video can be very helpful when showing how fires are fought and how successful rescues take place.

"Before any footage ever comes on our show we have  it both reviewed and  approved by the department.   We want them to feel the information being shown to the public is not  invading anyone's privacy," said Distenfield.

The Santa Barbara City Fire Department also uses the cameras and finds them very valuable.

"There's a component you want to learn from your previous experiences where that footage comes into play.  You can also Google an incident and find video from the agency or from those who witnessed it and learn from their experiences," said Santa Barbara City Fire Captain Gary Pitney.

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