The Newest Addition To Fire Fighting: Drones

Australian firefighters are testing drone helicopters for deployment at major fires and accidents—fire trucks will have access to real-time aerial video for planning rescues.

Australian firefighters are starting a year-long trial of using camera-equipped drones to extinguish fires. Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade announced yesterday it has acquired a set of drones produced by Australian firm Cybertechnology that will monitor fires and incidents. The two drones will be used in a year-long trial to test the efficiency of aerial video in planning rescue logistics.

The small drones, which resemble commercial models manufactured by Parrot and DJI, both have high-definition and thermal-imaging cameras, and have already been deployed to accident scenes. In previous training exercises, the drones were deployed to fires at a recycling center and at car accidents. Firefighters on the site then made operational decisions and planned rescues based on aerial video from the UAVs.

So why drones? They're more cost effective than other monitoring solutions, and work much better than the old-fashioned truck ladder.

"Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade's only capacity to undertake aerial monitoring and intelligence gathering during an incident is via ladder platforms, which have a lower level observation height and do not have cameras, thermal imaging, or plume analysis capability," commander Will Glenn of the MFB said in a statement.

"If the trial is successful, UAVs could improve our ability to rapidly gather a more complete overview of an emergency situation with their rapid deployment and ability to provide real-time imagery to the incident management team."

[Image via Cybertechnology]

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