The following information was provided by the Waterotwn Fire Department:
I’m writing to announce that the Watertown Fire Department now operates a DJI Inspire 1 drone. The small unmanned aerial system will be used for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, pre-fire planning, inspections, search and rescue, fireground situational awareness, damage assessment and fire investigation.
The drone was acquired with funding from a FM Global grant award worth $4,625 in the summer of 2017. After overcoming some roadblocks due to our proximity to Logan Airport’s Class B airspace, we are pleased to announce that we have been cleared to operate the drone safely and according to the FAA’s stringent regulations.
The drone provides added capability to our department. Fire department drone use is very progressive and we are thrilled to be on the forefront of welcoming this technology. WFD will use the device to capture aerial views of existing buildings to be able to later mark up the photographs with the locations of important fire protection features and other areas of interest. This will be a major help to our pre-fire planning effort.
Additionally, we hope to take aerial views of the several sprawling developments under construction that Watertown has, at regular intervals. Construction sites change very quickly when being developed and access roads through the sites are not exempt. Our incident commanders can be better informed of the best ways to access these sites with a regularly updated view from the sky.
(See below from a photo taken of the Commander’s Mansion by the WFD’s drone).
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During the incident the drone can provide a relatively safe means of gathering additional views of the scene so that incident commanders can make their decisions with more information. This will increase their situational awareness and aid in maintaining the safety of crews working.
After the incident, the drone can be used as part of the investigation process and damage assessment. One example of this could be for a fire involving rooftop solar panels. A drone would be able to provide a unique view that can help investigators fully document the scene and determine burn patterns, thus improving their investigation.
Again, we are very pleased and excited to be announcing this new capability. Operating a drone will surely have a positive impact on our department’s operations and we can’t wait to see the results.
Captain Ryan Nicholson
Watertown Fire Department