At parks, backyards, and even inside homes, drones are becoming a more common sight. The small flying devices are primarily for hobbyists. But in Menlo Park, California, the fire department believes drones have the potential for much more – like saving lives.
CCTV’s Mark Niu reports.
In Silicon Valley, the Menlo Park Fire Department has become one of the first firefighting units in the United States to get Federal Aviation Administration approval for this new project.
Firefighters are using drones from Chinese company DJI – some of which have been loaned out for testing. As firefighters drill for emergencies, they’re learning to get comfortable with and trust the new partner looking over their shoulder. Drone pilots go through extensive training to make sure they are an asset, not a hindrance.
Several months ago, when the firefighters were unable to get access to a helicopter, they turned to help from a drone flown by a photographer on the scene. It provided an important live aerial view of the extent of the fire.
Menlo Park’s fire chief said he plans on buying more drones including ones with infrared cameras that could better detect where the fire and victims are located.