In a First for the City, New York Firefighters Receive Drone Assistance to Combat a Fire Breakout
As drones continues to improve and become more readily available, we are seeing all kinds of exciting applications with the technology, as evidenced by a recent fire response in New York City.
The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) minor history at the beginning of March when responding to a fire breakout in the Bronx, as the department was assisted by a tethered drone for the first time ever.
The Firefighting Drone
Well, the drone used to help with firefighters didn’t directly battle any flames, but it provided some valuable support for those coordinating the FDNY’s response to a fire that had broken out in a six-storey building.
So, while there is no water cannon on the drone in question, it does come with a host of very useful features that may very well revolutionise how fire departments combat dangerous situations.
The drone in question costs a modest $85,000, and while this may appear to be a costly price tag, it actually offers exceptional value for money, especially when you consider it could help prevent serious harm or even death, as well as reducing the potential damage a fire will cause.
It’s a lightweight model weighing just eight pounds and the fact that the drone is tethered means that it can be used uninterrupted during any callout when attached to a power source with a thin cable.
In addition to this, the drone is fitted with a HD camera as well as an infrared camera, both of which provide a live feed directly to the necessary members of the fire department.
The department is currently operating with three drones, which can only be flown by specially trained operators.
Assisting the FDNY
So how exactly does a small, compact drone assist the New York City Fire Department? As previously mentioned, its fitted with two quality cameras that will provide live feeds to the FDNY, who can use this data to better combat a fire breakout.
For instance, during the callout in March, the Fire Chief leading the response unit remained on the ground floor while firefighters took to the roof to battle the fire. With the drone in use, the Chief had uninterrupted aerial view of the building, the fire, and how firefighters were reacting.
This allowed the Chief to make several well-informed decisions on how to best tackle the fire (such as noticing the roof was starting to fail), ensuring that the response was not just quick and effective, but safer for the firefighters on site.
The Fire Chief isnt the only member of the department to get a live feed of a fire either, as the acting incident commander also has access to the feed alongside several senior decision makers (who receive the feed via the operations centre).
This allows for a collective effort in how to best respond to a fire as it occurs, with the drone now providing the fire department with more information regarding a fire breakout than they would previously receive.
Working with the FAA for Safe Drone Use
Of course, having a drone flying around the airspace of New York City isnt without risks, especially considering the rigorous regulations set in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
However, the FDNY and FAA remain in constant communication whenever the drone is in use to ensure every follows all airspace rules.
For example, any time a drone is required to fly during the evening or into certain areas of restricted airspace, the FDNY directly contacts the FAA to receive permission before setting out.
This entire process only takes about ten minutes, which allows the FDNY drone operators to prepare the hardware for fire response.