Drone Is Columbia’s Newest Firefighter

By Sean McGowan on December 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Pictured, Brad Roessler (left) flies the Columbia Fire Department drone at the firehouse via remote control as Steve Doyle looks on. (Andrea Saathoff photo)

Though trained to brave the extreme conditions of a smoldering fire or the perils of an icy pond, Columbia firefighters know that with each call, safety is never 100 percent ensured.

Columbia Fire Chief Mike Roediger knows this quite well, and does his best to keep the risk factor to a minimum. In some cases, avoiding injury involves training and experience.

In others, recent advances in technology have helped to evade hazards. The Columbia Fire Department has come to know the benefits of technology after recently purchasing an unmanned aerial vehicle.

“(We were thinking about) the safety of the firemen. Especially when it comes to the Mississippi River being in our district,” Roediger said. “Instead of putting a boat out on the water when we don’t know where the person is, we can bring the drone out.”

What Roediger is referring to happens more often than one might think. The fire department was requested for the use of its rescue boat to recover the body of a missing kayaker in the summer of 2016, and again in the fall of 2016 to search for a woman who jumped from the Jefferson Barracks Bridge.

The drone was used in a similar situation at the beginning of the month in searching for a possible jumper off the bridge. According to Roediger, the drone helps in these kinds of scenarios because of a claw feature that allows the drone to carry a life jacket or rope to someone in the water…>>>

Read the rest of the story in the December 13  issue of the Republic-Times .

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