Menlo Park firefighters are flying history-making drones at South Fork fire

by Contributed Content on August 24, 2017

Two members of the Menlo Park Fire District’s UAS/Drone Team, Battalion Chief Tom Calvert and Captain Tony Eggimann, have been flying drones in Yosemite National Park since Saturday, August 19, working directly with the South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team that is assigned to the “South Fork” fire.

“History was recorded during the South Fork incident in Yosemite National Park with a first-eversanction, that authorized night flights of UAS/Drones in Yosemite, specifically utilizing Menlo Fire’s Drones equipped with thermal imagery to perform reconnaissance missions that confirm the status of containment lines and locations of spot fires or other potential threat,” said Chief Todd McNeal, with the Interagency Management Team, assigned to the fire, said,

The South Fork fire has been burning in steep rugged terrain with difficult access for ground suppression resources, wind and smoke conditions have often precluded manned aircraft flight during the day.

“These conditions are precisely where the capabilities and technology of Drone platforms equipped with thermal imaging cameras can provide invaluable information to the incident management team and the firefighters on the fire line in nearly real time,” said Battalion Chief Tom Calvert, who manages the Fire District UAS/Drone Program. “The benefits of reduced firefighter exposure to fire weakened trees, rolling rocks, intense fire behavior and limited rugged access are irrefutable and directly contribute to better situational awareness, timely decision making and proper allocation of limited suppression resources.”

Photo courtesy of Menlo Fire

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