Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) in partnership with Skywatch Civil Air Patrol is conducting a first of its kind experiment to explore the potential use of drones (unmanned aircrafts) during large scale incidents such as flooding and gorse fires.
The experiment, which will take place at Portrush Air Show this weekend, will test the feasibility of using drones to help enhance public safety and NIFRS operational response across a range of large scale operations.
A formal agreement already exists between NIFRS and Skywatch Civil Air Patrol for the callout and use of their manned aircraft and this experiment is potentially the first step in strengthening this agreement enabling NIFRS to use unmanned aircraft (drones).
Max Joyce, Assistant Group Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said:
“The Portrush Air Show gives us a good opportunity to test the capability of using unmanned drones for aerial reconnaissance during large scale incidents. For the first time ever we will be relaying live footage from the drones to our Command Support Unit at the Air Show.
“We know that using drones will enable Fire Officers to get an ariel view of operational incidents in real time thereby enhancing the safety and well being of our community and Firefighters.
“We are excited about the potential benefits this cutting edge technology could bring to quickly gathering information during large scale incidents – not only will it enhance interagency working, it will assist us greatly in emergency planning for these types of incidents and with our work in protecting our community”
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