New York firefighters deploy drone to tame Bronx blaze

The $85,000 UAV played a pivotal role in fighting the fire.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

Firefighters used a drone for the first time this week to help tackle a blaze in New York City.

The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) said this week that images and live feeds of the fire, which engulfed a six-story building on Crotona Park North in the Bronx, NYC, were captured through the use of a tethered drone.

On Monday, the $85,000 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was launched into the sky. Weighing eight pounds and equipped with both a high-definition camera and infrared camera, the drone was used to transmit live footage to the chief in charge of the deployment, who then watched how their firefighters were taking charge of the fire on the building's roof.

The command center was then able to direct the team to "help suppress the fire and keep FDNY members safe," according to the organization.

The drone was tethered using a small cable which carries power to the UAV so the gadget can remain in the air indefinitely. The tether also acts as a conduit for controls and data to prevent any interference with radio signals.

While drones are being explored for uses in warfare, delivery services, and have also become a popular gadget with hobbyists, it is great to see this kind of technology being used on street levels for urban applications which can improve citizen safety and reduce the damage that city fires can cause.

See also: China deploys drones for 'war on pollution'

"We have been using the drone for 6-8 months, we've been training a lot with it," FDNY deputy assistant chief Dan Donoghue said on Facebook. "The roof started to fail and we had a lot of great radio reports but that's only verbal, so with the drone we had good visual pictures and it really helped us make decisions to put this fire out and keep our members safe. Tonight, we had a lot of verbal reports, the Firefighters were saying the roof was giving way."

"Being able to get a picture, as well as verbal reports, give us the ability to make a better decision at the Command Post because it's difficult to understand even with the best radio report," Donoghue added.

The FDNY currently has three drones on the roster and works with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make sure the UAVs are following NYC airspace rules and regulations.

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