Drones for Firefighting: What You Should Know

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For your information, the American fire season is more than 75 days longer than it was in 1970, as indicated by a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Furthermore, this pattern gives no indications of easing back down. As an immediate result, firemen need to be more ready than at any time to battle this acceleration. 

As of late, using drones has become a rising trend in the disaster relief and firefighting industries. 

Data that these flying robots gain is instrumental when finding the fire’s epicenter, arranging out the best game-plan, and checking risky circumstances from above. 

That is not all; post-fire, drones are utilized to evaluate the gravity of harm, look for survivors, as well as decide whether a building, etc. is free of dangers to enter. 

Such services essentially improve security for everybody engaged on-site, aside from helping with related training in the future.

Interested enough about drone use in this regard? Let’s find more about it in this ultimate guide. Please note that in the post, we also refer to drones as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), unmanned aircraft, flying machines, flying robots, or automation.

The 5+ Ways firefighters use UAV in the field

Over America, and all through the world, UAVs are being utilized increasingly more in firefighting activities. 

And with great reasons. These flying machines assist firemen with gathering crucial data about fires going on, which encourages them to center their endeavors around where their assistance is most needed, helps them stay away from damage’s way, and spare lives. 

Here are seven fantastic ways firefighters are utilizing UAVs in their tasks at the present time.


UAVs support firefighting activities by giving an overhead perspective on the location of the fire, thus providing firemen with constant data about the way a fire is unfolding. 

When coping with fierce fires, the flying robots can assist firemen with seeing how the fire is spreading as well as where it is likely to go next.

Also, in managing a structure fire, UAVs can give critical data about ways out along with entry points, apart from uncovering data about the fire’s nature that may not otherwise be conceivable to collect.

Additionally, when a fire is beginning to cease to exist, it may still have smoldering hot spots which are undetectable to the naked eye. In that case, a thermal camera connected to an automaton can assist firemen with finding these spots and try to maintain a strategic distance from them.


Firemen do not just deal with fires. 

Drones can provide firemen with a speedy, safe approach to gather data connected with calamitous occasions such as floods, seismic tremors, and tropical storms. 

This early data enables emergency supervisors and incident commanders to comprehend the extent of community impact on living conditions, road conditions, as well as building infrastructure, and this data can be useful in figuring out what extra resources may be required from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), neighboring communities, or other different associations. 

The information UAVs gather at times of disasters can likewise assist in finding those who are trapped in their cars or houses, and divert rescue endeavors to help them.


By utilizing thermal cameras, firemen can discover individuals who may be caught on an upper level of a structure, or in a fierce fire, and pour their efforts into sparing their lives. 

Indeed, even without thermal attributes, the drone’s capacity to see into windows and get continuous data on the circumstance inside a burning structure, or in a rapidly spreading fire, can give critical data to firemen to assist them with sparing lives.


Firemen are likewise utilizing the flying robots to make emergency conveyances in calamity circumstances, conveying things such as AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators), and no matter what other equipment may be required on the ground. 

The veteran search and rescue drone pilot Gene Robinson once said that the fire service was genuinely at the forefront in package conveyance. During the flood in 2015, his team used UAVs to convey AEDs, body bags, and a large amount of other equipment that their UAVs were capable of conveying.


As you know, situational awareness is considered everything with regards to sparing lives and forestalling harm during a fire, and a large portion of the fight is figuring out what you are walking into.

That is the reason firemen have been utilizing the flying machines to capture pictures as well as make orthomosaic maps of key facilities and structures such as schools, in the areas that they work. 

Thanks to such maps, firemen will know where the ways out are. Not all, the incident commander may want to utilize these maps during a fire for realizing the comparison between fire conditions and normal conditions for various parts of a structure.


Utilizing an automaton to capture aerial film when a fire is burning should give a double worth — one, the situational awareness of what is right now occurring on the scene; and two, the assortment of direct data about how the fire burned when being active. 

This data, gathered in recordings and photographs, can be documented and utilized for investigations concerning how the fire may have occurred. 

San Rafael, Argentina, July 14, 2020: firefighter operating drone in search and rescue.
San Rafael, Argentina, July 14, 2020: firefighter operating drone in search and rescue.

Firemen are likewise utilizing UAVs after a fire burns out to review the scene and gather pictures that can be transformed into orthomosaic maps. Such maps will fill in as a record of the post-fire scene so that regardless of whether the scene changes after some time, there will be as yet a full data set that can be helpful for investigating what may have led to the fire and the way it burned when being active.


What is more? The aerial video film and pictures captured when a fire is burning are probably critical in after-action evaluations, in which firemen scrutinize their own endeavors with the goal that they can improve their approach and recognize training needs in the future. 

Plus, these materials can be leveraged to train new firemen, giving practical instances of how fire is likely to unfold, and where choices on the ground were made properly or could have been improved.

The drone future in firefighting

Hundreds of police and local groups of firefighters over America are utilizing UAV innovation. Experts envision this number to expand year over year since automaton innovation has been developing rapidly to meet fireman’s requirements.

Some words of caution when flying your drones

With the entirety of the UAV benefits, it is difficult to accept there is a drawback or, if nothing else, a word of caution with regards to the utilization of automatons. 

In case you do not know, hobby shop UAVs steered by untrained persons have been notorious for injuring personnel and damaging property, something contrary to your mission as firemen. Disregarding auto gyros and synchronized drone propellers, UAVs may crash, or their power supplies are likely to ignite as inappropriately charged or overly stressed.

With such a large number of G forces, the likelihood is that these flying robots break apart. The advanced electronics that should make them balance as well as hover possibly abruptly stop working over a crowd. To be honest, playing computer games or having a companion who flies radio-controlled planes is not sufficient to steer these drones professionally.

It is important that you know precisely how an automaton flies and hone operational skills, aside from understanding the necessary federal regulations to operate a robot securely and viably. 

Get the best possible training, and utilize the following guide for comprehending the typical components of a UAV:

1. Structure

UAVs have arms and a platform. The arms contain engines and propellers associated with the platform, which works to hold the speed control, signal receiver system, and battery. 

The platform is additionally the area for a payload. The payload is likely a camera, specialized equipment, or thermal imaging device. As of late, this can be a lifesaving gadget discharged down to survivors of a riptide. 

2. Force

Engines and propellers on the automaton arms’ ends can be in designs of eight, six, or four, contingent upon the payload prerequisites. The power originates from three-phase engines that ask for no brushes to create the vital power current and propellers that are constructed out of Kevlar, carbon fiber, and plastic. The engine and propeller assemblies are in connection with, and adjusted by a multi-system speed control intended to quicken or reduce the speed as constrained by the pilot. 

3. Direction

A more prominent push pulls the automaton upward while diminishing the collective speed of the engines brings down the flying robot accordingly. Changing the drone propellers’ angle by speeding up individual engines can alter the automaton’s course. 

4. Electronic control

The speed control has the proper connection with the receiver, just like any payload gadgets that need activating small engines, referred to as servos. Gimbals on the camera for movement and every control to precisely produce a picture, etc. ask for these servo mechanisms or their electronic impulses. We suggest that a pilot cum an assistant control this much work.

A characterized flying grid, exact areas, and video signals can be customized into a range of sophisticated receivers, each coming with its own activation sequence and power supply. Such signals are possibly monitored by video screens in connection with a PC or a transmitter, contingent upon the sophistication of the UAV system used. 

5. Transmitter

To operate a UAV, a transmitter should be bound to the receiver; in other words, there should be a signal between the transmitter in a pilot’s hand and an automaton in flight. Any changes in transmitter settings, interference, or inappropriate binding can affect the safety and success of a flight.

A transmitter typically begins with two sticks or control gimbals. Commonly, a setup comprises of the proper stick controlling direction as well as the left stick controlling elevation by means of motor speed. As straightforward as it might sound, mixing the two for viable flight needs training and practice. 

Add to the activity exterior gadget activation and control, angle settings, trim tabs, occasion recording, and systems checking, and you will be able to have a complete pattern for the flight. A few UAVs are operated by PC alone. 

6. The power of the battery

Power for an automaton originates from lithium-ion batteries. On the one hand, battery innovation is introducing new energy sources; on the other hand, the current standard for UAV operation should be the lithium-ion battery since the ratio between its power and weight has not had competitors. 

This battery might appear solid, but it is indeed a connected range of jelly-like packets. Generally, the more packets, the more amperes and voltage – the more power.

You may love that the configurations of the battery can produce more than 500 watts of power for each engine but are sufficiently compact to be practical for an automaton. Lithium-ion is known for the continuing high proficiency power curve until cells, or a cell arrives at a low power threshold of roughly three volts for each cell, which will lead to a quickened power loss. Bear in mind that these batteries should be balanced, charged as well as discharged in line with instructions because abuse or harm can bring about a 1,000-degree fire. 

7. Damage

Apart from battery fires, issues show up as drone propellers are harmed, or engines are undermined because of continued use at high RPM’s or helpless wiring. UAV engines pivot in a huge number of RPM’s, and a harmed propeller can vibrate adequately to shake electronics loose, consequently causing a control loss. 

A propeller that flies off a UAV engine can enter through the drywall. An awful engine alone can result in a disturbance in a balanced flight or a constant shaking of the UAV platform. Unwavering quality of data passed on to the transmitter will be compromised.

Requirements and regulations

UAVs are a moderately new innovation. That is why laws and guidelines on the use of these flying robots are continually changing.

Since you work to execute a UAV program in your team of firefighters, ensure you abide by local and federal laws. 

1. State and FAA laws

First, make sure your department’s use of drones abides by the Federal Aviation Administration’s operational limitations.

In the first place, ensure your department’s utilization of UAVs complies with operational restrictions of the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

A couple of key rules to note: 

  • Your automaton must weigh under 55 lbs. 
  • The robot must stay in the line of sight of the individual flying it. 
  • UAVs may just be in flight during daylight hours. 
  • The UAV pilot must not operate the UAV higher than 400 feet over the level of the ground.

You may want to learn more information on the UAV page of the FAA.

A lot of states have likewise adopted guidelines and laws on the use of these aircraft vehicles. 

As indicated by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), as of August 2017, 40 states had put laws addressing UAVs in action. You may want to check the UAV laws of your state

2. Drone pilot training and certification

A significant part of executing a UAV program in the fire service is concluding who will fly the automaton. 

Pilots of these flying robots are required to pass a test to be certified. The test incorporates questions regarding UAV regulations, requirements for flying the drone, as well as emergency processes,

You can discover more information about training and testing on the FAA site. 

Special equipment of rescue worker – mask, helmet, drone, oxygen cylinder at emergency services show

3. Significance of developing UAV policy for your fire department

In numerous areas, civilians are careful about the utilization of the flying machines in public safety.

Because plenty of people, despite everything, relate UAVs with military activities, these devices can raise worries about security and privacy. 

In case you missed it, a fire service UAV program cannot be effective without the help and consensus from the community.

So as to get that help, firefighters should be clear about the way they will utilize UAVs. That is the place drone procedures and policies come in. 

Decently-written procedures and policies will help your team of firefighters gain the buy-in from the community by plainly setting up the purpose and scope behind your UAV program. 

UAV policies will help the program work successfully and boost reliability in the use of the flying robots.

Below are a few tips and tricks for making viable policy for these aircraft vehicles in the fire service:

Comprehend your local and state laws 

As addressed above, state and federal laws about UAV use are as yet changing. 

As you create the automaton policy for your department, we recommend counseling legal counsel and experts to ensure you codify every regulation and laws in department policy. This should incorporate laws which cover nuisance, trespass, and privacy.

Your UAV policy will guide your automaton use, guaranteeing that your automaton use is in compliance with pertinent laws. In addition, including provisions to meet rules and laws for the policies will help diminish liability-related risks.

Identify your purpose and follow it

Before your team of firefighters purchases an automaton, you ought to get genuinely certain about how you will and will not use it. 

The DHS (the United States Department of Homeland Security’s report on most favorable practices for drone programs encourages public safety agencies to set up the reason/ purpose for the program unmistakably. 

In other words, define the challenge which incited your department to make a drone program, and the way UAVs will help with tending to that challenge.

Building up the basic role of your program will help you figure out what kind of UAV innovation and training you need. 

That is not all; identifying the program’s scope will keep your fire department from violating laws, and it will lessen liability as your policy will be able to cover those particular situations. 

Craft a nitty-gritty SOP/ SOG 

Now that you have analyzed laws and characterized the purpose/ motivation behind utilizing UAVs in your fire department, it is an ideal opportunity to create the standard operating process for your UAV program. 

Make your SOP (standard operating procedure) as clear and explicit as could reasonably be expected. The SOP for UAVs in the fire service had better explain each operation aspect, including, however not restricted to: 

  • Who is approved to utilize the automaton. 
  • The procedures are for requesting UAV use (whenever required) or the conditions where the automaton can be utilized. 
  • Detailed procedures for flying the UAV.
  • What record keeping or logging needs to happen. 

The SOP is presumably the most significant part of your policy. Setting aside the effort to thoroughly consider the different procedures is significant. 

A proper policy management software can assist you in effectively working together on making ultimate SOPs. 

Plan for storing and accessing information gathered by your automaton 

Automatons gather a ton of information. This information – regardless of whether as recordings, pictures, or other data – can raise privacy concerns. 

The UAV policy of your fire department ought to determine what data will be put away, for how long, as well as who can access the documents. 

More often than not, the UAV use of fire departments occurs on the fire scene or emergency occurrence. 

Thus, information captured by UAVs in the fire service is likely not as prone to lawsuits as that caught on law enforcement UAVs. However, there are still privacy worries about any government agency recording the residents.

The DHS recommends making a timetable to get rid of any recordings or images that fail to be associated with an ongoing case.

As suggested, information gathered that does not relate to an authorized purpose ought not to be held more than 180 days.

Get transparent with the community

Try not to build up your fire department UAV program away from plain view. Your department ought to be straightforward with the community about goals to buy an automaton, how it will be utilized, and what you will do with UAV information. 

It is worth noting that your department might even account for building up a UAV program in association with other public safety agencies, for example, the city planner, property appraiser, or the police division.

Sharing UAVs across agencies will not just be a decent way of sharing the expenses, but presents a more grounded case to the public about in what way a public safety UAV program can be beneficial to them.

What are the best drones for firefighting?

Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Quadcopter Drone RTF with CGO3 Camera - a drone for firefighting
Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Quadcopter Drone RTF with CGO3 Camera – a drone for firefighting

Well typically, some of the most significant criteria for firemen’s flying robots are:

  • How easily will they melt?
  • Ease of use
  • Price

In view of that, the following models may be the best options for your local group of firefighters.

1. 3DR IRIS+ (915) Quadcopter – by 3D Robotics

2. Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Quadcopter Drone RTF – Yuneec

3. DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ V3.0 Quadcopter – by DJI

For detailed reviews of these drones and how they can benefit your firefighting tasks, be sure you read through this post.

The bottom line

It is nothing unexpected that UAVs are gaining increasing popularity in the fire service. While not new to traffic departments and construction work, fire departments all over the places are expanding their interest in the advancement of drone technology and using these flying robots to increase the effectiveness of their jobs.

We do hope that the essential information above helps you have a better idea of how drones for firefighting are being recognized for their benefits, apart from rules, regulations, and requirements related for the safest and most practical use. Also, refer to the drone models recommended above for your best, most informed choice!

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