By now, everyone has heard the term drone. Whether watching the news and seeing how the military uses this technology or people watching at the park, you’ve probably learned a few things about these unmanned aerial vehicles. But, have you ever considered how first responders, such as firefighters, can use drones? Drones are being utilized in everyday situations and even saving lives and providing better training for firefighters all over the globe. Keep reading to find out how drones can be beneficial to firefighters and learn about new technology that is making existing drones even better.

Opportunity to get a Bird’s Eye View

Before, the only way for firefighters to get a bird’s eye view of a structure or wildfire was to employ the use of a helicopter. However, helicopters are expensive. On average, it costs 10X more to operate a helicopter than it does a drone. On top of that, repairs to this type of aircraft are much more expensive when compared to those of a drone, and helicopters need a pilot, which puts a person’s life in danger while a drone can be operated from the ground without risking a person’s life.

By using a drone, firefighters can see all sides of a building without having to waste time patrolling the area and can get a good idea what the condition of the roof is like. Having this information available fast helps safety officers make good decisions and allows firefighters to get to work more quickly with better intel regarding the situation and any potential hazards they may be facing.

Access Tight Spaces

In Minnesota, bridge inspectors are using a drone called the Flyability Elios to access tight spaces. What once required the use of a cherry picker and lots of working hours can now be done quickly with the use of this tiny drone. The drone captures video and other relevant data that allows engineers to assess the bridge’s safety.

Firefighters could use drones for the same reasons. When inspecting a building for potential fire hazards or looking for survivors after a hurricane or other natural disaster, a drone would be able to get in tight spaces faster than firefighters. It would allow firefighters to focus their rescue efforts more efficiently. When inspecting buildings, it can help fire inspectors find potential hazards before they become a problem. When problems are found quickly, and at early stages, it saves money and potentially saves lives as well.

Evaluate Training Events More Closely

The day after a game, football players gather in the locker room to watch films from the game. It’s a great time for players to reflect on what went wrong and what was successful. Firefighters can employ the same theory with a drone during their training events. Watching what was happening above and around them while they’re training heightens awareness and can provide valuable lessons on what should and shouldn’t be done when a real-life situation happens.

Keeping Firefighters Safer in Hazmat Situations

Hazardous situations are dangerous for first responders and everyone in the community. The best way to handle a hazardous material situation is to contain it right away. Before drones, the only way to investigate a hazardous spill or other dangerous situation was for first responders to physically assess the situation. Unfortunately, that immediately puts those individuals in danger. Until a case is contained, there’s no telling what could happen at any moment.

By employing the use of drones to fly above or into this type of situations, firefighters could inspect from a distance – before it becomes more dangerous. Knowing exactly what was happening without having to examine the scene physically can allow firefighters to stay safer on scenes and contain situations faster.

Drone Technology will aid Firefighters even More in the Future

As technology continues to advance, firefighters will benefit even more from using this equipment during missions. The 2017 UAE Drone for Good Award competition showcased unmanned aerial devices that could reinvent the way firefighters operate and save lives.

One of this year’s winners was the Sanad Academy in Dubai. The academy’s drone, called the Smart Ring, is a remotely piloted aircraft endorsed by the Dubai civilian authority. The drone is unique because it is entirely waterproof. It’s also equipped with GPS technology and capable of radio communication. Firefighters could use this drone to locate drowning victims quickly.

UAE’s other finalist included drone innovation that will significantly impact the way firefighters operate and enhance their abilities. Some of the finalist drone themes include:

Firefly – a rapid evacuation platform drone designed to search high-rise buildings for stranded people

Mine Kafon – an airborne demining system

Wing Copter – a search and rescue drone

With technology changing regularly, it’s safe to say next year’s UAE Awards will bring even more innovations that firefighters can apply to their training techniques. Does your fire department regularly employ drones? Tell us about it in the comments below.