Utilizing Drones as a Firefighting Tool
Posted by Councilmember Englander on April 24, 2016 at 8:08 PM
Last Friday, I submitted a motion requesting that the Fire Department (LAFD), with the assistance of the City Attorney's Office, report on the feasibility of utilizing drones to assess significant incidents to be used for information gathering.
Drones have become increasingly common over recent years and, as the technology improves and becomes more affordable, the list of uses that individuals and corporations find for them grows. Local governments should be no different and should look at ways to utilize these devices to better deliver services and ensure the safety of the public and property. One specific way that local governments could possibly utilize drones is in fire suppression efforts.
When a structure fire breaks out, the Incident Commander must assess the situation in order to properly identify what types of resources are needed and to formulate the best plan of action. In some large structure fires, this requires having firefighters assess how a fire is burning while looking down on it from the extended aerial ladder on a fire engine. This puts a firefighter in a position where, if something were to go wrong, they may get seriously injured. Further, assessing a fire in this manner only gives the Incident Commander information from one viewpoint.
The use of drones for this type of work may be valuable, as a drone equipped with a high definition camera and operated by the Fire Department from the ground could give the Incident Commander a superior ability to assess the situation while simultaneously keeping firefighters from exposing themselves to unnecessary danger. If the use of drones for information gathering during large fires is feasible, the City should look into deploying this technology.
-Mitchell Englander, Chair of Public Safety Committee
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