TUSCALOOSA FIRE AND RESCUE INTRODUCES TWO DRONES TO FLEET

Fire Drone

After securing enough funding, Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue has a new drone. But, this drone is a little more sophisticated than the ones found in a park.

The new drone is equipped with two types of cameras: one with a very powerful zoom, and another that uses thermal imaging.

“We plan on using this on hazardous material search and rescue incidents and kind of major fire this will give us some major information,” Sgt. Blake Nelson said.

The drone is so sophisticated that, just a week ago, Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue responded to a brush fire in Alberta. The drone was so helpful, it cut down on resources.

“We’ve had these before where the fires can be all up and down the railroad tracks,” Tuscaloosa Fire’s Jeff Roberts said. “You know, the train comes by and the dry weather sparks fires most of the time, we have to deploy resources and deploy firefighters up and down the tracks, walking through the woods, trying to gain access to the areas that’s hard to get access to. Last week, the commander requested we fly the drone, so we flew from University Boulevard to Jack Warner Parkway, following the railroad tracks, checking, making sure there were no more fires and hot spots. We were even told, the instant commander, the exact temperature the tree that was on fire so, that kept us from deploying firefighters and resources out through the woods, looking for fires, and we can stand and we can fly the entire area with one flight.”

Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue has had this drone for about three weeks, which cost them about $28,000.

“Currently, our team, we have four pilots,” Roberts said. “We’ve expanded out; we got some other guys online that has FAA107 – that’s one thing you have to go through. We have decided in our fire department our pilots will be FAA-certified remote pilots so they have to go through that training and have to take the FAA test that will be the first part of their training and then they will come to the drone team and they will get flight training on our specific drones and its uses.”

The large drone is named Black Bird One, and the smaller drone is named Sparky.

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