Chris Hugh, a representative from the OCFD, sheds light on the significance of this tethered UAV. The department boasts a fleet of response-ready trucks, but there are instances where aerial assistance becomes crucial. Hugh explains, “We’ve pulled up to a commercial fire alarm, and what appeared to be, you know, a basic three to four-thousand-square-foot structure turned out to be a lot larger than that.”
Real-time thermal imaging capabilities
This is where Fotokite’s tethered UAV comes into play. Designed to navigate through challenging conditions, such as thick smoke, these drones provide real-time thermal imaging. Hugh emphasizes their ability to reveal the heat signature across different parts of a structure, aiding firefighters in pinpointing the fire’s location accurately. With six tethered infrared imaging drones at their disposal, each operated by a pilot using a tablet, the OKC FD gains a comprehensive aerial view of the situation. The thermal imaging capability extends to a height of 150 feet/45m, allowing for a bird’s-eye view of major fires. This not only aids in assessing the fire’s extent but also serves to locate individuals, potentially assisting in victim rescue.
The added value of Fotokite’s tethered UAV
Unlike traditional drones requiring specialized pilot training, any firefighter can operate them. Hugh highlights, “Being tethered means that any firefighter can fly it without undergoing drone pilot training, and they don’t take away from our staffing.” The seamless integration of these drones into the firefighting workflow is a testament to their efficiency. As soon as the OKC FD arrives on the scene, they can rapidly deploy the Fotokite drone. “So as soon as we pull on the scene, we can throw the base of the drone out there, push the button, and it launches,” Hugh adds.
While these drones are just one component of the OKC FD’s advanced technology arsenal, they play a crucial role in the initial stages of firefighting. By quickly surveying the surroundings, the department can make informed decisions on where to deploy resources to protect housing and other structures in Oklahoma City. As they continue to embrace innovative solutions, the department reinforces its dedication to the safety and well-being of the communities it serves.