“This gives us an aerial view that we typically haven't had in the past,” says Fire Chief Landry Merkison.
The drone is outfitted with a video camera and recorder which can send real-time views to fire coordinators from hundreds of yards away. So while one firefighter operates the controls that tell the drone which direction to fly, another monitors the scene.
It can't be used in every scenario, but in some cases, it can help firefighters assess hazardous conditions before they send crews into precarious places.
Chief Merkison says the drone is especially helpful in forest fires or when crews can't see the backside of a building.
“You know traditionally we have to suit up a team and send them in to figure out what we're dealing with. Now we just send in our drone. It gives us the information we need so we can respond effectively and efficiently,” explains Merkison.
The drone is also faster and more cost-effective than using a chopper to get aerial views.
“The standard police helicopter is a couple hundred dollars an hour to fly. You know, for half that price, we can very easily provide the same service with a real-time video feed.”
The total cost for the drone and video system is less than $2,000.
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