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Drone Flight Debrief – 3-27-2018 – Residential Structure Fire

Drone Flight Debrief – 3-27-2018 – Residential Structure Fire

Here is another in my ongoing sharing of flight debriefs to help other public safety pilots learn from my experiences.

Date: 3-27-2018

Incident: #[]

Location: []

Flight Time: 50 Minutes

Mission Goals

To monitor the scene and evaluate temperature conditions of the roof with fire located in the area above the ceiling. The video of the flight can be seen below.

What Went Well

The following items were conducted without incident:

Given the tight conditions in the neighborhood, I approached the scene from the opposite side and established a safe landing zone (LZ) at Taylor and Perry. It was the nearest location that had a clear column to climb the drone through wires and trees.

The temperature of the roof was monitored and an initial assessment of the hottest area of the roof was shown to Chief Blake. The image below was on arrival.

From my interpretation of the thermal image using multiple palettes, I did not see the signature I am familiar with when a fire is hit with a substantial amount of water and shows rapid cooling. I will need to get a better understanding of how the fire was fought to understand the images visualized.

At the end of the incident, the roof was examined again and the initial heat locations on the roof were no longer visible.

The cause of the streaking on the roof was suggested to be where water was resting on the roof but it appears to have been caused by an undetermined method and appears to have existed prior to the fire.

What Could Have Gone Better

The following items could have been adjusted for a more satisfactory outcome.

I need more training and education on how fire and heat travel in incidents like this to better assist the Battalion Chief with information to make actionable decisions.

I did not initially put out cones for traffic because it appeared no traffic would find its way through to my LZ. I was wrong. I subsequently put out cones and fully blocked the intersection with assistance from Chief Early.

I would have preferred to configure isotherms for structure fire heat ranges but I opted to maintain a steady image instead to observe if heat was traveling across the roof. In hindsight, it would have been possible to do this since the scene did not change rapidly.

Recommendations From Flight:

While there is always room for improvement, for the most part, I felt this flight was conducted in a safe manner, obtained information that could inform and be acted upon, and resulted in helpful service.

About Steve Rhode

Steve is an experienced and certificated UAS pilot and aircraft instrument rated pilot. He is also the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department.
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