Firefighting Drones

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.


Firefighting is the act of extinguishing fires, with the goal of preventing loss of life and destruction of property and environment. It is one of the most dangerous occupations and many firefighters are losing their lives in the line of duty every year. It is a profession where any reliable technological innovation that can mitigate the risk of firefighting is quickly adopted. Dronologista already had an article about the experimental firefighting drone, Skybarge, but as it is still in experimental phase, today we’ll focus on UAV and equipment that is already being put to use.

Two years ago, Al Jazeera English uploaded a video on their Youtube channel about a firefighting unit in Germany using a drone to increase situational awareness. The price of the drone mentioned in the video was ~$150.000.

Thanks to the Moore’s law, similar equipment today can be acquired with much lower budget. One of the most advanced players in this market, Danish Sky Watch, offers Huginn X1 quadcopter with both thermal and visible spectrum camera, with a price tag not quite available, but nowhere near $150.000 mentioned above. However, there are cheaper options, and if you are having technical skills, you can buy M1-D camera at Ebay, and attach it to your multicopter, to get a very useful piece of equipment for less than $30.000.

To see how useful it is, check the video below, and it will be clear how much difference it makes to have a FLIR camera in the sky.

Having a possibility to detect where the heat comes from, what are structural weak-spots of a burning building and ultimately to spot humans hiding from the blaze obscured by the thick smoke, is in firefighting context, priceless.

Human obscured by smoke in burning building

Human obscured by smoke in burning building

Although human life is invaluable, it is unfortunate fact that insurance companies have put a price tag on it ($7.400.000 if you were wondering, according to this Business Insider article). That means that even if a fire department buys the most expensive drone available, equipped with the most advanced tools for firefighting, the return on investment will be equal to the real value of life – infinite.

Videos and pictures courtesy of Al Jazeera, Sky-Watch, Roswell Flight Test Crew and FLIR.



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