OK Firefighters, Law Enforcement Consider Use Of Drones

Friday, February 15th 2013, 6:33 pm

Oklahoma firefighters and law enforcement are considering the use of drones to help them do their job. In fact, News 9 has learned the drones will be deployed during this year's wildfire season.

The view from the air is one firefighters say could be invaluable. For example, if a field is on fire, firefighters would be able to see what's in the fire's path.

"In a matter of three minutes we can have a vehicle in the air with live video to the incident commander that will show him what is out in front of the fire," said Jerry Stuckey, Co-CEO of Fireflight.

Stuckey is a former Midwest City firefighter. He, along with two buddies who like him are model airplane enthusiasts, created Fireflight. For the first time, they showed area firefighters what the drones can do.

They seem to have convinced John Hansen, Director of Oklahoma council of Firefighter training.

"It's got an incredible value tactically, and for firefighter safety, that's the main thing, to be able to see quickly over a wild land fire, where a tornado just passed through, or flood," Hansen said.

The view from the air doesn't just have benefits for those fighting fires. According to the owners of Firefight, police could benefit from the technology as well, for example, during a standoff situation.

"Put a drone up with live video, capture video and study it, show all their teams, swat teams and everybody what they had, what the house looked like, where the entries and exits are," Studkey said.

Other smaller drones can be programmed to check out the inside of building to look for bad guys or let firefighters check the structural soundness of a building before they go inside.

"It's going to be a valuable tool, no doubt in my mind," Hansen said.

Stuckey says his drones cannot shoot anyone, they are only used for surveillance, and can only be sold to those in public safety. Not the general public.

Oklahoma is one of the leaders in drone technology. According to Governor Mary Fallin, the industry could create hundreds of jobs in the next few years.