California’s fires face a new, high-tech foe: Drones

CNET, by Lexy Savvides

Drones offer an unparalleled perspective for firefighters to spot threats. But the real potential is yet to come. Fire crews could deploy swarms of drones to get different views of the same fire, or send up drones with water tanks to complement traditional aerial firefighting tools, such as helicopters and planes. 

The Menlo Park Fire District was one of the first in the US to start a drone program. In the four years since, more than 180 fire departments across the country have bought drones for fire and rescue operations. Relatively few have pushed drone usage to the same level as Menlo Park, which has set up a dedicated drone command center and which trains firefighters from around the country to pilot the aerial devices. “First responders are trained to deal with any type of stress very quickly and appropriately, but this is new technology,” says Romeo Durscher, director of public safety integration at DJI. “This sounds like a Jetsons future,” says Durscher, “but I think this is really around the corner.”

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