Maricopa Fire and Medical Department is rolling out new tech to combat fires: drones.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Chief Public Safety Officer Micah Gaudet said the department will soon introduce drones to its operations.
The drones, equipped with thermal cameras and tethered in place, will assist the department in monitoring the scene, identifying hotspots, determining where to send resources and knowing the location of each firefighter.
“After an incident is finished, we can really make sure that scene is safe and we can do that to help reduce loss of property and protect lives as well,” Gaudet said.
Additionally, Gaudet said the department could use the drones for monitoring large-scale events, such as festivals for “constant awareness.”
MFMD Fire Chief Brad Pitassi said the drones can keep eyes on house fires for hours after crews depart.
“Once we’ve had fire control, we always like to monitor the fires through the night,” he said. “We can deploy the drone overnight and if there’s any embers starting to grow, we’ll be able to see that and act quickly to mitigate any additional fires.”
The department expects to begin using the drones by the end of the year, according to Pitassi.
Industrial drones used for firefighting usually start at $10,000 and can be flown up to 400 feet, according to the FAA.
While the department awaits final costs, Pitassi estimated the drones to cost around $35,000 each. However, he said it’s a worthwhile investment.
“It’s a very significant investment, but it is also a significant investment in the safety and welfare of our community,” he said. “So we figure it’s money well spent.”
Phoenix Fire rolled out drone firefighting this year and flew more than 700 unmanned flights already, KJZZ reported recently.
Valued at $1.3 billion last year, the U.S. drone firefighting market is expected to more than double to $2.76 billion by 2030 thanks to adoption by smaller agencies like Maricopa, according to Lexipol.