Bedford Volunteer Fire Department expands drone usage – WDBJ7

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) – Often, first responders are our first line of defense when a crisis occurs. That’s why any tool that can help them better perform their job is vital to our safety, and theirs.
The Bedford Fire Department has had its drone for a few years, but they’re expanding the way they use it. “If there’s a fire involved, then there’s a heat source, right? So we bought the camera specifically to see heat,” explains Curtis Marshall, firefighter/parametric, drone coordinator and President od the Bedford Fire Department.
That infrared camera is proving to be helpful to first responders in more ways than one.
“When we originally purchased the drone, our intention was to use it for as many calls as humanly possible,” explains Marshall. “In the last six months or so, other agencies down south of us, still in Bedford County, have had some pretty large brush fires and we have this resource that could be used to see how large the brush fire was, or see where hot spots were. So we decided to take the drone down with our thermal camera that attaches to it, and we could see where the fire was and where the hot spots were, and we could guide the dozer crew around the fire to put a line in.”
The drone also has a regular camera attached. According to the department, the device helps assess resources, and increase efficiency, all while being ready to go when an emergency occurs.
“We use it as a tool, just like we use a fire truck as a tool, or a hose as a tool, or a rake as a tool.,” notes Marshall. “It’s a tool to help us be more precise with our actions and more poignant to what we’re trying to do. We can actually go in and try to save more property regardless of the incident, with using a tool such as our drone and the cameras we have for it.”
The department says it’s used the drone on about 15 calls this year.
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