HCI College continues to monitor the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more

Firefighters and Drone Safety

Firefighters and Drone Safety

Drones have made firefighting in remote areas much easier. The flying machines can reach places that firefighters are unable to reach and go into higher temperatures than humans can handle.

This is important when wildfires devastate entire states or fires occur in hard-to-reach areas.

How Drones Are Used

 

Drones are a great tool for many different industries. For firefighters, drones provide another way for them to fight fires that would have otherwise been unmanageable. The drones scout the area and send thermal imaging and gas sensor information back to first responders. Drones can determine the epicenter of the fire where firefighters need to focus their efforts. With this knowledge, firefighters can know what they will need to do to rescue people from a fire and exterminate the blaze.

Firefighting departments are being trained on how to use drones in their firefighting efforts, but it is important that they also consider the safety and ethical concerns when using drones.

 

Safety, Laws, and Ethics

 

The United States has laws that must be followed in regards to the use of drones. Misuse of drone technology can intensify a fire or harm a civilian. When firefighters use drones in their firefighting missions, they have to abide by Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission (PSAAC) standards for small, unmanned aircraft.

The advisory is broken down into five sections that cover every aspect of working with drone technology. Firefighters who operate drones must follow safety protocols and be trained on how to use drones the proper way. Standards on flight operations and maintenance ensure that the drone is flown safely and maintained. If drones are not serviced regularly or inspected for damages, the drone could cause harm in flight. Or, it could crash when it should not have crashed.

Administrative standards ensure that drones are used in an ethical and legal manner. Firefighter departments need to follow procedures when requesting their own drone programs and obey the laws regarding the flight of drones, especially in residential areas. Unethical usage of drones, such as spying on other people or flying in the view of an airplane, can lead to harm for civilians and legal action for the firefighter that failed to follow best practices.