Fire services across the UK are beginning to realise the potential of drones for search and rescue. Their ability to be launched quickly  can help fire fighters asses a situation much more quickly than a helicopter can in many situations. Also, a new generation of thermal imaging cameras specifically made for drones is making it possible to immediately detect the source of the fire.

Lancashire Fire Brigade buy Sky Ranger drone

Fire Fighters in Lancashire and Greater Manchester are amongst those who have adopted unmanned aerial vehicle technology to improve their service. The Lancashire fire brigade have invested in a £6,600 ‘Sky ranger’ drone which is able to provide real-time footage. The craft can fly in high winds and poor weather – both of which can be a problem for traditional helicopters. The military device can fly for two to three hours using its batteries and weighs just 2.5kgs.

Unlike helicopters, there are no aviation fuel costs to cover, and the drone is immediately available to fire fighters wherever it is needed. There are no problems with conflicting demands from other fire brigades. The fire service and police can call on the drone to assist their officers in situations such as fires, floods, collapsed buildings and rescues.

Drones Fighting Fire in the USA

In Kansas, fire fighters are using a drone to assist with fire investigations. The vehicle allows them to access areas that would otherwise be unsafe or impossible to reach – even in a manned helicopter. In real-time situations, the drone pilot is able to quickly convey information to ground crews and so Fire In The Sky – Drones assist fire fighters operations are more easily directed.

Thermal Imaging Cameras Saving Lives

Advanced thermal imaging equipment can be installed to allow a drone’s camera to act as an eye in the sky for fire fighters. Unlike the human eye, the thermal camera can detect heat. This infra red technology allows operators to direct the crew right to the base of a fire. In rescue situations, fire fighters can use the camera to detect body heat signatures. This allows rescue crews to find trapped victims faster and saves lives.

Fighting Fire From The Air

After so much negativity from the press about unmanned aerial vehicles, it is encouraging to see drone technology being embraced by the emergency services. The overall costs of a drone can be significantly less than a helicopter. Aviation fuel alone is more expensive than buying and maintaining a drone: never mind the costs of paying for helicopter crews. The relatively disposable nature of the craft means they can be used in situations that are far too risky for a human pilot. Tools such as video recording and thermal cameras add a valuable extra tool to a fire fighter’s arsenal.

In the future, we can expect to see an even greater take up of drones by police, fire fighters and rescue teams.

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