Scottsdale Fire Department Uses Drones, Increases Safety and Response Time

The Fire Department of Scottsdale, AZ is now using drones to increase the safety of its firefighters and reduce wait times on rescue missions.

“The biggest thing is it’s about safety for the citizens and safety for our firefighters,” said Scottsdale fire captain Dave Folio.

The department owns six drones which are able to fly up to 400 feet (~ 122 meters) in elevation  and 5 miles (~ 8 km)  away from the pilot. 14 firefighters have completed their FAA certification requirements in order to pilot the drones.

The drone cameras are able to capture 360-degree views, live stream, and send the exact coordinates of a location back to the base. A 360-degree view can drastically help firefighting efforts as it gives first-responders a complete view of the building structure, heat signatures, and smoke levels. The drones are even able to carry water bottles, life vests, helmets, speakers, and flashlights for people who are waiting for rescue teams.

“We’re going to start using them on most of the calls that we have. If we can get there quick enough to put a drone up for the safety of our crews to get a quick 360, we will,” Folio said.

The drones will also be used to fight brush fires. The team can use the drone to determine how fast a fire is spreading and in what direction, without putting firefighters in immediate danger. In the case of vehicle collisions, the drone can be flown out to the scene, read the placard, and relay the information in order for firefighters to research the chemical that’s involved.

“The technology is here, and we’re excited about it. We’re gonna use them as often as we can. If it provides one ounce of safety for the public or for us, we need to use them,” Folio said.