Flying High Over A Bronx Fire

March 7, 2017
Flying High Over A Bronx Fire

K. Daniel Glover

The Big Apple’s big investment in drones paid dividends yesterday when the Fire Department of New York put it into the air over a four-alarm fire in the Bronx.

It marked the first time the fire department used its $85,000 tethered drone in the field. “We were able to get a good view of the roof, which allowed the incident commander on the ground to view the firefighters as they were conducting roof operations, venting the roof and putting water on the fire,” operations center director Timothy Herlocker said.

Equipped with both a high-definition camera and an infrared camera to gauge heat levels, the drone weighs 8 pounds. A tether carries electricity to the drone to keep it charged and in the air indefinitely, transmitting video to a command post and the operations center.

The aerial views give fire chiefs insight into a fire’s hot spots so they better see where to send firefighters and how to keep them safe. For the Bronx fire, the footage confirmed verbal radio reports about the six-story building’s roof failing.

“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,” Deputy Assistant Chief Dan Donoghue said.

The department has three drones in its fleet, and firefighters in the department’s Command Tactical Unit are trained to fly them.

“This new technology is going to make a positive impact in our fire operations,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “The drone’s camera gives our Chiefs a view they never had before. It’s an important tool that will make our members, and the people we protect, even safer.”