Heat-Seeking Drones Help Fight Fires

First-gen drones focused on imaging systems using the visible light spectrum, but there are many UAV companies with infrared imaging expertise. Drones that “see in the dark” through advanced heat sensors are now being deployed for fire control.

Practically everyone in America has heard about the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, California. Receiving less attention was the novel use of a heat-detecting drone for fighting the massive fire. The drone was deployed by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Equipped with a sophisticated thermal imaging camera, the drone helped firefighters locate hotspots that could have reignited the fire in the later stages of disaster response.

Thermal Imaging Drones Could Save Lives During Massive Fires

California and many other areas of the U.S. are subject to dangerous wildfires during the dry season. Thousands of local residents may be evacuated with very little notice. Sometimes, people may be left behind under dangerous conditions.

Heat-detecting drones may be the key to protecting more people during major disasters. Using infrared imaging devices, these drones not only detect fire: They also spot hot gasses that could be deadly – and find people who have been incapacitated.

Thermal Imaging Drones Save Precious Minutes

In any fire rescue emergency, seconds count. Smoke inhalation can kill victims within a few minutes, and buildings can become too unstable for rescue workers to enter.

Thermal cameras have become popular with fire departments around the nation. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, about 80% of calls include a response with a thermal camera. But drones are even more versatile.

Using helicopter drones, rescue teams could get vital intelligence about an emergency before even arriving. Properly-outfitted helicopters can begin fighting the fire while firefighters are still en route.

Over the next decade, thousands of lives may be saved through innovative use of heat-sensitive drones.

To learn more about thermal imaging, browse our selection of FLIR infrared cameras.