April 23, 2019

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Drone Operations in the Fire Service

Gordon Graham
Category: Fire

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for fire.

There’s no question that using drones in the fire service will enhance safety.

Today’s Tip deals with the use of drones, or unmanned aerial systems, in the fire service.  

With today’s drone technology, almost anyone can fly one. They are pretty cheap and widely available, so almost anyone can get their hands on one. With a camera on-board, a drone can be a very, very useful tool for public safety operations. 

For example, a drone allows firefighters to get a closer look at a hazmat situation or a wider look at a large fire scene. Some drones can be equipped with thermal imaging for search and rescue operations or monitor firefighters from a distanceThey increase what can be seen and decrease the risk of injury. A classic win-win situation. 

Many agencies are incorporating a drone program. But before you take flight here are a few suggestions. 

Develop comprehensive policies and procedures. Really think this through. Define the types of missions you will perform. Include necessary protocols for deployment. Address the preservation and storage of recorded video. 

Make sure you know what Federal, State, and local laws and regulations apply. These rules are constantly changing. It’s important to get this right. Consult your agency’s attorney if you can. 

Create a training and certification program for everyone who will operate the drone. But don’t stop with training the operators.  

Provide some training to all of your personnel before using the drone in the field. For example, if you plan to use a drone for search and rescue, work with your search teams so that they can learn how best to integrate the aircraft. Train for as many different types of missions as possible before you deploy the drone.  

There’s no question that using drones in the fire service will enhance safety. Think your program through all the way. And train before you fly. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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