Fire Service invests in drone technology to give a new perspective on blazes and other rescues

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has invested in a drone to give a bird’s eye view of incidents, which will help firefighters and officers when tackling large blazes.

The new drone can also be used to assist crews whilst dealing with a host of other incidents from road traffic collisions to wildfires and animal rescues, along with more specialised incidents such as structural collapse, flooding, and incidents involving hazardous materials.

Furthermore it may be used to give a new vantage point, for example, on rescues from height, water, or even trenches.

The drone showed just what it can do last week when there was a large scale fire in Kent Road, Pudsey.

Area Manager Nick Smith said: “We have used our drone for the first time at a major fire at Pudsey last week and it has already proved invaluable. One of the problems we faced at the fire was visual access to the full perimeter due to the surrounding properties and their gardens.

“The drone overcame these difficulties for us and provided us with an eye in the sky for the Incident Commander which helps with their decision making and ultimately helps keep firefighters safe.

“The aerial footage helped the Fire Service better understand the extent of the fire and damage. It is also feeding into the ongoing fire investigation and operational debrief.”

The drone is currently being used on a six months pilot, following which the Service will assess its success.

A small team of pilots have been trained and licensed to fly the drone. They will fly it in a way that minimises the impact on people’s privacy as the aim is public safety.

AM Smith added: “We believe this new asset is going to make a big difference for fire and rescue service operations and the safety of the public of West Yorkshire.

“It’s really important to us that we harness new technologies to improve our capability as an emergency service.

“The aerial footage will assist us in so many ways and help keep the people of West Yorkshire safer and of course our own firefighters.

“We will use it to gather information and train our staff to prepare for all types of emergencies at different sites. It will allow us to gather real time footage of fires and other emergencies such as searching waterways for missing people. It will better inform our risk assessment and decision making at incidents and afterwards it will help us investigate the cause of fires and accidents.

“Additionally, it will capture events that occur during our response to share with others so we can learn and improve how we work at incidents.”

Currently, the drone will potentially be flying during daylight hours Monday to Friday, and at weekend daylight hours. The Public is asked not to fly any drone near to our incidents as it may interfere with the operation of the Fire Service drone, and mean that it would have to land.