It’s a drone deal.
Following a $30,000 grant from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, Port Coquitlam firefighters can now get a bird’s eye view of fires with two new thermal imaging drones.
Previously, the department could only assess fires and other emergencies based on reports from first responders at the scene.
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The drones are meant to provide the department with “fast and efficient reconnaissance” instead of putting crews into potentially hazardous situations, explained assistant fire chief Walt Warner earlier this spring.
“It’s way safer for us and quicker for us,” he said when discussing the grant application with city council in March. “The days of putting firefighters on roofs, which you know is extremely dangerous, is almost coming to an end.”
Real-time video footage should help firefighters make better decisions, explained Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West in a press release.
“This is a great example of our city using creative technology tools to better serve and protect our community, residents and keeping our firefighters safe,” West stated.
Along with geographic surveys and infrastructure inspections, the drones can also be used to find someone trapped or injured in a burning building by picking up their heat signature, according to the city.
Drones can be flown at a maximum of 300 feet and pilots must maintain a direct line of sight.
Video is set to be livestreamed to the Emergency Operation Centre and securely stored, according to Warner.
“We’re not taking pictures of people’s faces or licence plates,” Warner told council.
While the fire department will likely need to swap out some batteries and replace some parts, Warner said the drones would last six to 10 years.
The $30,000 grant is also intended to help pay for emergency training sessions.