The use of drones by firefighters is not necessarily new. This technology has become a necessary and invaluable tool in many industries such as agriculture, energy inspection, and mine mapping, but the application of drones has been especially relevant for firefighting. Drones can quickly be deployed overhead a fire to get a full understanding of the current fire conditions and to ensure the safety of the firefighting team and potential victims.
From 2009 to early 2017, around 347 public safety agencies in the US bought drones, some by police and 69 of them were fire departments. Drones are being sent to fire scenes equipped with zoom and thermal imaging cameras to assist first responders in their search and rescue operations.
Here are four key uses of drones by firefighters:
- Scene Monitoring – By providing a rapid aerial assessment of burning structures, a drone can be a significant help to quickly analyze the status of the fire before firefighters can enter the scene.
- Search and Rescue – With features such as zoom & thermal cameras, payload drop systems and floodlights, drones can be configured to assist ground crews in search and rescue operations even at night.
- Post Fire or Disasters Assessment – Inspection to assess the damage or search for missing persons is easier by having a bird’s eye view of the scene. By using drones, firefighters can easily record video that can also be used for future training purposes.
- Wildland Firefighting – With the use of thermal imaging cameras, firefighters can easily identify hotspots, see through the smoke and analyze which areas on the ground requires immediate action.
In the past, local authorities have complained about the irresponsible use of UAVs and issued a plea to drone hobbyists to keep their drones grounded during aerial firefighting as they can cause major delays and problems in firefighting operations. However, these problems can be easily diverted through the halting of drone operations during aerial firefighting and to be only used as a post-fire assessment tool or to check for hotspots. The use of this technology can play a key role in assisting firefighters during building fires or in search & rescue operations to reduce risk to life and increase efficiency.
Check out the full infographic provided by Dronefly to see how drones are used in the field by firefighters.