Firefighters Push To Use Drones For Public Safety

Wednesday, March 12th 2014, 7:28 pm
By: News 9

The FAA has endorsed specific guidelines when it comes to civilian drone use, but drones used by public safety officials still needs a green light.

"The way I see it, it's technology, and technology that can save lives and property," said Fireflight owner, Jerry Stuckey.

The heat is on for March. In just the past three days, News 9 has reported around 15 wild fires in the Metro.

"The overhead view is priceless," said Stuckey.

Firefighters, so far, can only see the fire when it's right in front of them.

"We fought without knowing for sure what was going on," said Stuckey.

When it comes to battling wild fires, Stuckey has been there and done that.

"They have to speculate that because they don't know what is actually there," said Stuckey.

So he wants to change the way current firefighters survey the blazing acres by introducing unmanned aerial systems for public safety.

"Give live video instantly to that commander," said Stuckey.

A camera equipped surveillance system flying from 8 to 400 feet is a benefit state fire marshal Robert Doke looks forward to.

"If we can get a unit up in the air, it gives the commander great decision-making tools," said Doke.

It is something that Doke feels is priceless with the unpredictability of a grass fire.

"Not only does it trap our firefighters, but it traps our citizens and their livelihoods," said Doke.

So while the fire marshal waits on regulations from the FAA and policies from the capitol, Stuckey has seen light up UAS conversations across the state.

"We're ready to implement," said Doke.

"The cry for public safety UAS is huge," said Stuckey.  

One bill is ready to be heard on the House floor. If it is passed it will require publicly safety officials to obtain a search warrant when conducting surveillance.