Cosumnes Firefighters Get a Drone

The Cosumnes Fire Department last month received a drone donated from the Drone Pilots Association. This remote-controlled, aerial device can carry a 360-degree camera and sensors that capture overhead views of fire and disaster incidents.

“Drones can be used to obtain real-time information on emergency incidents that we are currently unable to obtain without the use of manned aircraft,” Cosumnes Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin said. “This information can vary from aerial assessment of large incidents to helping look for missing persons.”

The Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) board approved the donation of a Yuneec Typhoon drone, worth $750, at their Dec. 6 meeting. Deputy Fire Chief Troy Bair told the board that a drone only needs a few minutes to launch and is a cheaper alternative to using a helicopter to survey an incident site.

“The community should also know that companies like Yuneec are making every attempt to create products that address problems that make our communities better and safer” said Bruce Parks, president of the Drone Pilots Association. “New technology is not always something to be feared.”

The board also allowed district officials to apply for a Public Aircraft Operator license and to have their drone program undergo legal review. Drones have caused concerns for privacy rights over the past few years.

McLaughlin on Jan. 30 said that his staff cannot use the drone yet since they have to get certification to operate the device and to develop a policy manual for board approval. The fire chief noted that government-owned drones can be politically sensitive.

“Government-owned fixed and rotary wing aircraft have been equipped with this technology for many years, and it is seen as the norm,” McLaughlin said. “Drones, however, bring a new concern to the table.” [Click for More]