Whitesville Fire Department uses drone to help fight fires, manage large scale emergencies, US
It's a new technology being used by the Whitesville Fire Department. "He stands out like a sore thumb," Colt Roy said of the Whitesville Fire Department's new drone during a test flight. Roy was referring to the thermal video being recorded as it flew. The drone can shoot regular video but can also display several different thermal options, which show different heat signatures from people, vehicles, gas leaks and yes, flames. "On a large structure it might take a while to locate the fire, we might be able to see a heat signature from the outside to narrow our search," said Roy, the department's public information officer.
He said the drone can also help locate missing people during search and rescue operations, help in hazmat situations and with public service announcements. "If we have a hazardous material container, the liquid inside the container will be cooler. We’ll be able to tell the capacity of it from a safe distance without putting anyone in harm’s way," Roy said.
In short, the drone can travel quickly across terrain or into scenarios where fire fighters and other emergency personnel would not be able to go.
"This is our Swiss Army knife," said Roy. "It means not having to call somebody or wait for somebody to respond. Having it in-house that was a big deal."
The drone was recently used to help crews track a fire in the Whitesville Fire District. Crews also used it to look for hot spots along the fire line. "If we can get eyes on an unknown and solve problems faster, that’s going to give us a better chance to save lives and to protect property," Roy said. "It’s night and day difference."
Roy said the drone cost $6 000 and was paid for out of the department's annual operating budget.
He added it can also be used to assess property damage after storms, which can be especially helpful heading into hurricane season. "We've never had a multi-storey apartment complex in our district. We have one now," Roy said. "It shows the fire department connections, hydrants, that’s a big win for us."
Source: ABC News 4