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FOCUS


A fresh perspective Drone technology offers emergency services


a new perspective for more informed decision making and assessments, says MCL Responding to fi res


T


HE USE of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as they are also known, for recreational and photography use is now


well established in the UK, with the technology becoming part of everyday life. Even retailers such as Amazon are looking at how it can be used to revolutionise parcel delivery, and UAVs are also widely used by the military to support surveillance and offensive operations. In the extreme and pressured environments


that fi re and rescue services (FRSs) respond to, the technology can be a vital tool in providing fi refi ghters with a greater understanding of the cause and spread of large fires, developing more informed risk assessments, and helping to identify risks to enable improved decision making in fi refi ghting operations. Compatible with a variety of surveillance


payloads, drones can act as a ‘third eye’ positioned metres up in the air, enhancing the effectiveness and safety of crews on the ground, and mitigating associated risks to prevent threat to life, property or surrounding areas. But in which situations and environments can UAVs prove useful?


16 MAY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


For fi res in both rural and urban environments, the use of drone technology can be extremely benefi cial. For example, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) uses the Aeryon SkyRanger UAV to gain an instant overview of fi res as they develop and spread. This vital information can then be used to position equipment and crews on the ground to tackle the flames more effectively.


Commenting on the service’s use of the


SkyRanger, Chris Rainford, drone safety manager at LFRS, said: ‘Using the drone we can get an instant overview of a whole fi re in less than fi ve minutes, and start moving our machines and our fi refi ghters around just like chess pieces – all controlled by drone footage. It also brings us a massive benefi t in that we can see fi res as they’re developing.’ Not only can drones improve the speed


and effi ciency of controlling and extinguishing fi res, but they also allow FRSs to safely manage crews on the ground, identifying risks to nearby people or buildings as well as routes to and


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