Austin fire dept uses UAS to monitor emergencies

Austin fire dept uses UAS to monitor emergencies


US: To reduce the response timing and improve safety, the Austin (Texas) Fire Department Robotics Emergency Deployment team is using a UAS. The system is adopted to keep calamities at bay. The mission of the fire department’s RED team is to mitigate real-world problems through the deployment of air, ground and maritime remotely operated resources, Coitt Kessler, Austin Fire Department RED team program manager said via email.

The department uses a Leptron RDASS quadcopter for its search and rescue work. The platform carries a GoPro camera, has night-time navigational lighting for its evening Certificate of Authorization, Kessler said. The UAS is painted fire engine red and has flashing lights attached to make it look like a flying fire truck, he said The RED team wants the quadcopter to resemble a fire truck so there is no question when and where the fire department is operating, Kessler said.

Identified uses for the UAS include high-rise fires, flooding, wildfires and commercial structural fires. Meanwhile, the UAS also can be used for purposes including hazardous material events, damage assessments, mapping and investigations. So far, the RED team has used the UAS for a variety of jobs including damage assessments, prescribed burns and search and recovery, Kessler said.

The Austin Fire Department is looking at deployment protocols and researching how to better affect emergency response with the use of the UAS, he said. Members of the Austin Fire Department’s RED team include eight firefighters, battalion chief and assistant chief. The team has four licensed pilots. The RED team received UAS training from local professionals, including Gene Robinson, of the Wimberly (Texas) Fire Department, who is a pioneer in the operation of UAS for Search and Rescue.

Source: UAS magazine