Searsport firefighters will be hauling out their hoses, buckets and sponges this weekend to shine up some local rides in an effort to raise funds for a new thermal imaging camera.

The Searsport Fire Department will hold a benefit car wash Sunday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the public safety building. The minimum donation will be $5 for a car wash, but those who wish to contribute to the cause, sans the vehicle cleansing service, may also do so at that time.

Wikipedia describes the thermal imaging camera as a device that forms an image using radiation, rather than the visible light that is captured by an ordinary camera. They are effective in dark or smoke-filled environments because they can detect heat radiating from a building or from a person’s body, making them useful tools for fire and rescue.

Searsport Fire Chief Jim Dittmeier said the cameras were financially out of reach for most fire departments when they first hit the market.

“When they first came out about 12 years ago, they cost about $18,000,” said Dittmeier.

Now, with the price at less than $6,000, such equipment is more attainable.

Thermal imaging cameras, or TICs, have typically been used at fire scenes to locate lost home occupants or firefighters in a burning building, but Dittmeier said the cameras have come in handy in other emergency situations over the years.

TICs can be helpful at some car accident scenes, Dittmeier added, as locating a crash victim who was ejected from their vehicle at night can be a difficult task when relying on eyesight alone.

“Other departments have used them to find a kid that’s lost in the woods at night,” said Dittmeier.