How Drones Are Hindering Firefighting Efforts
As we move deeper into the 21st century, one of the prevailing issues of our time is the need for common sense to keep up with burgeoning technology and how it can help or hinder our response to all sorts of emergencies. Recently, the serious issue of civilian drones has come to the forefront of emergency services as incidences of drones interfering with first responder operations are on the rise. Sometimes, this has devastating effects.
Fire Suppression Aircrafts Cannot Fly Near Drones
Both law enforcement and fire suppression agencies have reported drones directly impacting how they conduct their operations, and not in a positive manner. The biggest concern for firefighters is that drones often interfere with fire suppression aircrafts. When drones are in the area of a fire scene, planes and helicopters cannot fly over it to suppress the fire due to concerns of an aircraft colliding with a drone.
While most drone operators are simply hobbyists with good intentions, they often don’t understand or anticipate the negative impact they can have on fireground operations as they attempt to capture compelling footage of an emergency incident from the air. For instance, Ronald Walls, assistant chief for the San Bernardino Fire Department, reported that California’s “North Fire” in 2015 saw the burning of nearly two dozen automobiles on a major San Bernardino County highway. “We had drone operations that had actually forced us to shut down all of our air operations,” Walls said. “I don’t believe we would have seen nearly hardly any vehicles be damaged if we’d had the ability to bring in aircraft and redirect the fire.”
Federal Government Pushes to Regulate Drone Activity
While the federal government is working on a bill to regulate drone activity, there’s also a push for the FAA to allow municipalities to respond with their own policies as different regions throughout the country have vastly different concerns. For example, higher density populations will naturally be concerned with the potential for malicious intent and terrorist activity. As drones buzz around, they could be essentially scouting targets and ultimately delivering some destructive device. Forested areas deal with the real-time concern of drone activity grounding air operations intended to combat and control wildfires.
The federal bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is called the Drone Federalism Act Of 2017 and aims to allow local governments to regulate craft flying below 200 feet. This could result in significant reduction in the negative impact drones could have on emergency operations. Still, it’s worth noting that, as technology progresses, so will drones, which may result in drones flying above this 200-foot barrier and negating the effectiveness of such a bill.
While there are other methods of combating the concerns over drone activity interfering with emergency response, legislation still hasn’t caught up with the times, which can be frustrating for those who see this as a pressing problem that will only continue to grow.
Companies Helping First Responders Take Matters into Their Own Hands
To date, drone activity isn’t controlled like other unmanned aircraft with registrations and requirements for identification markings so that agencies can track down offenders and issue warnings, fines, or whatever consequences may be appropriate.
Technology does exist with the ability to disable drones, but the limitations set by the federal government in using this technology has proven to be another frustration for local agencies. But that doesn’t stop companies such as California-based IXI Technology from developing and manufacturing devices that get the job done. IXI Technology’s Drone Killer looks like a big plastic gun. It transmits radio signals that make drones go back to the place from which they took off, and if that doesn’t do the trick, the Drone Killer can jam the device’s GPS signal and force the drone to land where it is.
Bottom line, drone activity isn’t going away. It may even replace delivery drivers someday, and as Big Business figures out a profitable use for it, we can expect to soon live in a world where the sky is buzzing with drones for all sorts of commercial and personal reasons. An entire segment of the film industry is devoted to drone camera operations to provide large, sweeping visuals from above for dramatic effect. It’s only a matter of time before legislation eventually catches up to the trend. But in the meantime, drone interference in emergency operations is on the rise, and that has very real consequences on civilians right now.
Protecting Our Nation’s Firefighters for Over 25 Years
For over 25 years, Boise Mobile Equipment has served our nation’s fire fighters by engineering state-of-the-art fire engines. The safety of our nation’s firefighters is our number one priority, so BME fire apparatus are built to protect fire crews by shielding them from the lethal elements they encounter when battling fires. Our fire trucks are engineered for rugged off-road terrain, built with reinforced TIG-welded aluminum tubular bodies and are tilt-tested to withstand horizontal grades of more than 32 degrees. BME fire trucks are trusted by fire service organizations like CAL FIRE and the USDA Forest Service, as well as numerous municipal fire departments across the country. In fact, many of our apparatus were used to help battle the recent ‘mega fires’ in California, Montana, Oregon and Idaho.
Our engineers and mechanics are highly trained, allowing them to manufacture custom vehicles built to any specs. We understand that one size does not fit all in the fire industry, as every department and organization needs different equipment to do its job. That’s why we are known for our ‘built-to-spec’ manufacturing process. Rather than the traditional ‘cookie cutter’ manufacturing process where each truck is built the same and additional specs are charged as add-ons, BME builds each of its vehicles custom to every department’s specific needs.
BME’s recent contracts with Forest Service and CAL FIRE allow for tag-on’s that could make the purchase of your new apparatus faster, easier and far less costly. For more information regarding the purchase of a BME fire apparatus, please contact us by phone at (800) 445-8342.