In February, a fire drone program proposal was presented to the Mill Valley and Sausalito City councils in California by the Southern Marin Fire Protection District. Once approved, a six-month series of engagement posts on social media and public forums will be held in a community campaign initiative. This educational effort aims to teach residents of the benefits of fire drones, which includes providing rescue information instantly and detecting surplus vegetation in areas where wildfires pose the greatest risk to community members.
There are several reasons why fire drones help communities. The immediate imaging of drones would save the district time and resources. The drones are able to access areas fire fighters cannot and give a birds-eye view perspective. This increases the safety of not only bystanders but fire fighters, as well. Drones are becoming more regularly used for public safety purposes such as identifying fires through thermal imaging, fire prevention, locating suspects, search and rescue missions, landslides, and other catastrophes.
Over the last three years, the Southern Marin Fire Protection District has studied the use of drones in providing a critical function both in terms of prevention and during emergencies. Within the past year and a half, the department has been utilizing a drone, which ten employees are licensed to function. A public database would be made available on a quarterly basis. Matt Barnes, fire district Battalion Chief said, “We want people to trust that what we are doing is appropriate and providing a better level of service.” Barnes assured residents that their privacy would be protected.