For the last few years, we’ve heard again and again that drones need to be kept away from fires, or other emergencies, because they can get in the way of first responders. But now, one Silicon Valley fire department is flipping that dynamic on its head.
DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, announced a partnership yesterday with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. The partnership is aimed at implementing drones as “reliable tools in emergency preparedness, response, and post-incident missions.”
DJI has recently been working with official emergency response groups to use drones after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the massive fires in Yosemite National Park and in Northern California.
The later fires “marked the first time the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection authorized drone flights as part of the emergency response in a large-scale disaster,” DJI wrote in a release. “Menlo Park FPD used DJI equipment for more than 120 drone flights to provide situational awareness for authorities, assist with search and recovery efforts, and survey destroyed neighborhoods.”
Ultimately, the idea is to show how public safety agencies can deploy drones as a valuable way to survey emergency situations, give vital information to incident commanders, and do so while remaining safely out of the way of manned aircraft.