Drones could prove useful in firefighting - WNEM TV 5

Drones could prove useful in firefighting

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The Montgomery County, MD, Fire and Rescue Department has purchased three UAVs, or drones, saying the aircraft will ultimately benefit public safety.

Locally, the Mesa Fire Department says drones could be another tool in firefighting since it can safely give them another set of eyes during structure fires or wildfires.

"This would give our command staff the ability to take a big picture of what we're looking at and then be able to strategize how we're going to approach fighting this fire and evacuating citizens," said Capt. Forrest Smith with the Mesa Fire Department.

In addition to local and federal regulations still yet to be determined, Smith said nothing will ever replace the human element.

"You certainly have to make sure you have the human component to it, to be able to read the things that are happening at a structure that's on fire," Smith said.

We spoke to a local UAV pilot who says the biggest advantage is safety and cost.

"In terms of cost, the difference between putting a small unmanned vehicle like this in the air as opposed to a full-sized helicopter is literally astronomical.  You're talking thousands upon thousands of dollars an hour," said Valley UAV pilot Chad Black.

Although local fire departments may not be using drones yet, it could only be a matter of time.

"If we're able to use a tool like this to assist with saving life and protecting property, then we certainly would want to take a look at something like this," added Smith.

"This is just a quick, easy, efficient and it does the job, and it does the job very, very well," said Black.

To read more about the drones being used in Montgomery County, MD, CLICK HERE.

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