Drone proves to be ‘ex­cel­lent’ ad­di­tion to fire de­part­ment

The Glengarry News - - News - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

The head of South Glen­garry’s fire ser­vice says the UAV (un­manned aerial ve­hi­cle), or drone, ac­quired about a year ago has been a wel­comed ad­di­tion to the town­ship fire ser­vice’s re­source kit.

“I think we’ve been very pleased about some of the op­tions and the abil­i­ties that it’s brought to us...to al­low us to com­plete some of the re­sponses that we’re called for,” fire chief Dave Robert­son told The News.

Chief Robert­son ex­plained that the drone – an ap­prox­i­mately $1,000 model which he de­scribed as be­ing “an en­try-level piece of equip­ment with many of the op­tions that used to be found only on higher-end com­mer­cial units” – has been suc­cess­fully de­ployed on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions since it was put into ser­vice.

“We’ve used it on struc­ture fires, for prop­erty in­spec­tions...for brush fires and fires that are far away from the road,” he said.

“It’s an ex­cel­lent tool that can be sent to in­spect ar­eas prior to us send­ing in our ve­hi­cles and other re­sources to those lo­ca­tions...It’s proven to be very valu­able.” Chief Robert­son added that the drone is used “more from an ad­min­is­tra­tive or com­mand per­spec­tive, as op­posed to op­er­a­tions from our fire staff.”

The South Glen­garry de­part­ment is be­lieved to be the only fire ser­vice of its size in the re­gion to cur­rently be us­ing drone tech­nol­ogy.

The County of Ren­frew Para­medic Ser­vice has been us­ing drones in med­i­cal emer­gency sit­u­a­tions – per­mit­ting mem­bers to drop off life­sav­ing med­i­cal sup­plies, de­fib­ril­la­tor ma­chines, etc. to those in need – since re­ceiv­ing ap­proval to do so from Trans­port Canada’s in Jan­uary 2018.

While he ad­mits that the use of drone tech­nol­ogy is “kind of in its in­fancy,” Chief Robert­son said the UAV ex­pe­ri­ence has al­ready ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions.

“Our in­ten­tion was to sort of as­sess its use­ful­ness,” he re­called.

“We could see early on that we had a few re­sponse types that we would be able to use it for, and that has proven to be ac­cu­rate. It’s been a very use­ful tool.”

He says there are no plans at this time to pur­chase any ad­di­tional drones for the mu­nic­i­pal fire ser­vice.

Chief Dave Robert­son

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