IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

A Great Example of One Fire Department's Use of Drones

The short video shows the practicality and economy of using drones in the fire service.

Orange County, Fla., Fire and Rescue is currently using drones to provide added technological capability to their department's ability to provide emergency services to the people they serve. See the text below that was shared with me. Be sure to watch the short video.

"Drones for personal and enterprise uses have dramatically increased over the past few years alone. In fact, according to the FAA, there will be 7 million drones in the skies by 2020. For example, drones are already being integrated for disaster relief and search and rescue efforts. Technological integrations such as these are reshaping the firefighter capabilities, thus, improving their ability to save lives and stay safe.

For firefighters, drones in combination with augmented reality (AR) and smart wearables are becoming an integral tool. The Orange County Fire Rescue Department (OCFRD) in Central Florida is embracing these technologies by incorporating drones and AR solutions into their force. View the video case study here. Just last year during Hurricane Irma search-and-rescue efforts, one of their notable successes involved using thermal imaging with a drone and smart glasses to find and rescue a civilian family trapped in the top floor of a submerged building.

Successes like those were possible due to the OCFRD integrating these technologies to:

  • Utilize AR smart glasses allowing firefighters to avoid obstacles, maintain visual-line-of-sight of the craft and keep relevant data in front of them — all without requiring them to look away at a display monitor.
  • Incorporate a dedicated and advanced training program to educate ground teams on what to look for and how to use the technology in the field.
  • Pilot drones as a safety precaution for their crew and aerial search-and-rescue.


Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.