Posts Tagged fire department purchases drone

Champaign Fire Department news

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The Champaign Fire Department has announced it is planning on utilizing unmanned aerial systems (drones) in a variety of emergency situations.

Fire department officials say they are sending eight firefighters to Parkland College to receive pilot training and Federal Aviation Administration certification.  Additionally, the firefighters will participate in hands-on training prior to using the drones during actual emergencies.

To help the Champaign Fire Department in this effort, Horizon Hobby donated two drones for use in emergencies.  Various instances where these devices could be used include during hazardous materials response, natural disasters, water and ice rescues, large fires, and live fire training exercises.

Fire officials say they hope to begin using the drones on actual emergencies by January 2018.

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Elgin Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Elgin Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said that in December the fire department purchased a practice drone and one that will be used in the field with a sophisticated forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera system. The camera cost $9,000 and the two drones a combined $3,000.

The police and fire departments will begin using the equipment in the field after a presentation to be given the city council. Eventually, other departments might find uses for the drones, such as public works surveying its projects or the water department inspecting water towers and its sites.

At a hazardous materials spills, a drone could be sent up to survey the situation prior to any firefighters being sent into the impacted area. With structure fires or field fires, the drone could be deployed to see the nature of the blaze or from where the fire might be coming or be most intense. In searches for missing people, the drone could assist from above, saving time and saving money. Helicopters used in such scenarios can run upwards of $2,000 an hour.

The camera works in conjunction with a GPS mapping system. So if there were a flood, tornado, snowstorm, or other natural disaster that left an area unmarked or cleared of housing, that mapping could be used to compare how the area looked before and after the event. In those situations the drones also could be used to look for survivors and damage assessment.

Overseeing the fire department training is Battalion Chief Rich Carter. At the Elgin Police Department, Officer Kevin Snow has been training on using the drone system.

Advanced functions on the drone Elgin will be using include object avoidance and the ability to fly indoors. It’s also designed to be able to carry small objects, such as a life vest. It can stay in the air 28 to 35 minutes, and can be flown in winds up to 30 mph, but not in the rain.

State law limits how police departments can use drones. For surveillance operations, police must get a signed warrant. Any footage taken that is not used in a criminal case must later be destroyed, and drone footage is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.


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