By S.L. Fuller | February 24, 2017
Florida now has a drone-using fire department. The Madeira Beach Fire Dept. is the first in the state to implement a drone program, local news outlets reported. Used primarily to conduct reconnaissance missions in maritime operations, the department’s two drones appear to be a DJI Phantom and DJI Inspire.
Some reported cite funding for the drones, which came last November, as private donations, while others have cited a grant. The drones have already allowed the department to save resources. In one case, a drone was deployed on a call for a lost kayaker. During the drone’s fight, it was found to be a false alarm, and the department avoided deploying additional resources for no reason. While doing another surveillance mission for a call of a suspicious object in the water, the drone captured footage showing that object was actually a buoy. Again, resources were conserved.
The fire chief, Derryl O’Neal, is the only licensed drone operator at the department. However, the plan is to have one certificated pilot per shift.