Exploring sUAS Use in Your Fire and Rescue Department
Fire departments continue to evaluate using small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in their operations. Some departments have already created robust sUAS programs for a variety of potential uses, including:
Scene size-up, pre-incident planning and damage assessments (PDF, 1.9 MB).
Digitally mapping hazards, both urban and rural/wild re areas.
Search and rescue in remote areas.
Hazmat scene/release evaluation.
Deployment of automatic external de brillators or other medical equipment.
Video recording training, drills and exercises for later evaluation.
As an example, the Orange County (Florida) Fire Rescue Department now has seven pilots licensed to operate 10 sUAS and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certi cation. sUAS operations are not limited to large career departments with bigger budgets, though. A Missouri volunteer department recently gained national attention for their aerial video evaluating the scope of a recent 50-car pile-up.
With so many sUAS possibilities for the re service, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) proposed a standard addressing minimum requirements for the operation, deployment and implementation of sUAS. Those interested can review the NFPA 2400 the document scope and sign up for email updates
When you look at everything a sUAS makes possible, the lure to get one is strong. Fire departments should complete a thorough needs assessment before investing time and money in equipment, training and getting an FAA waiver or authorization. Determining how you will use the sUAS will often determine what to purchase and who to train, ensuring money well spent instead of wasted.