Posted: 2019-03-05 18:36:05
drones wildfires

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Almost every town and city in the world is working on a tight budget – but drones are proving to be one of the best investments that a community can make to assist their fire and emergency services departments.

In Vincennes, IN, the local TV channel reports that the city’s drone program has continued to grow since its inception in mid-2018.  Part of the reason for the program’s growth is the flexibility of the tool – drones, equipped with cameras or thermal imaging sensors, can be used to assist in a wide variety of situations.

The Vincennes department’s drone is equipped with a FLIR thermal camera, and Assistant Fire Chief Eddie King tells WTHI that the drone is used to monitor fires, take aerial views of Hazmat accident scenes, or search for mission people.  With the team’s latest tool – a drop device – the drone can be used to deliver life preservers during water rescues.

Vincennes is not the only town to realize the value of an investment in drone technology.  Drones are already on the scene of Alabama’s deadly tornados, searching for survivors.

“Xenia Fire Department Captain Brian Brennaman said they use their thermal energy drone often,” reports FOX45 news.

“It makes the job a lost easier,” he said. “With the situation, down with the tornadoes, they’re probably using them to survey the area, the damaged area the paths the tornado took, and mostly for missing person searches.”

These drones can locate missing people in a matter of minutes, even if they are no longer alive.

“With the thermal energy camera, you will see heat signatures from a person’s body,” Brennaman said.

There are so many different application for a drone equipped with fire services that that Computer Business Review reports that the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the American Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will hold simultaneous hackathons to “come up with innovative ways to assist emergency services as they battle wildfires.”

“Emergency services are using technology to shorten response times and improve the chances of saving lives and preserving properties. As more entities start using drones, new applications are emerging all of the time,” says Randall Warnas, Global sUAS Segment Leader for FLIR.

With fire and emergency departments under more pressure than ever to provide more services for less budget, drones prove a valuable tool.  “Drones – especially equipped with thermal imaging – are one of the best tools a community can invest in – they can be used in so many ways to assist fire and police departments.  They provide a valuable tool for all different kinds of emergency situations: accidents, fire, search and rescue, crime scene investigation and more,” says Rob Schield, veteran firefighter and CEO of Fire Cam.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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