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By providing an aerial view of an incident drones help Incident Commanders develop tactics to help tackle it. Drones may also be able to access areas which are unsafe for firefighters. Overall, they improve safety for our crews, and help improve our response to incidents.
We have two drones – the DJI Matrice 210 and the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual.
The 30x optical camera gives Commanders on the ground, and in remote locations, live images of the incident scene. It’s so powerful it can read a number plate half a mile away.
The thermal imaging camera can detect heat sources, and may be used to check the temperature of cylinders at risk of exploding, monitor heat spread in a warehouse fire, or spot casualties in water.
In order to operate the drones, a drone pilot must have completed a week-long training course, and extra training for more specialist uses like night flying.
Each drone is operated by a minimum of two people – one who pilots the drone and one who operates the cameras. Whenever possible a third person will also attend, to help with setting up and acting as an observer for any hazards.