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Scott Evans

Fire Chief, Atlantic City, N.J.

Scott Evans, Fire Chief, Atlantic City, N.J.
As fire chief and emergency management coordinator for Atlantic City, N.J., Scott Evans is committed to saving lives. He is also a leader in the world of drones, the evidence of his efforts visible around the city’s beaches, where unmanned aerial vehicles patrol for rip tides and the sharks that endanger visitors, especially when no lifeguards are on duty.

Beachgoers, many of them visiting from abroad, can be unaware of the dangers of the Jersey Shore and get in trouble, especially early in the morning and later in the evening when no one is patrolling the beaches. That’s when the drones come into play.

“People come from all around the world here and they wade into the water fully clothed,” Evans told Emergency Management.* “This isn’t the Mediterranean Sea — this is a turbulent ocean and people can easily get caught in a rip tide.”

The drones, deployed in partnership with the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park, based in nearby Egg Harbor Township, patrol the beaches, looking out for dangers and allowing Evans’ team to respond with the appropriate resources when someone is in trouble.

“We definitely embrace technology, being able to gather intelligence quicker, being able to utilize and maintain situational awareness as soon as possible,” he said. “... We’re not a big city so leveraging those resources that can give us intelligence is worthwhile.”

Police and fire also use the drones throughout the city, and Evans organized a drill this spring with helicopters, civilian and military planes, and upgraded drones to test communication.

Evans began his career at 22 years of age in the fire service in 1987. He graduated from the Atlantic City Fire Academy in 1988 and hasn’t looked back. He was appointed acting chief over the Fire Department in 2015, then appointed as fire chief in 2016. He also served as mayor of Atlantic City from 2007 to 2008.

*Emergency Management is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management magazine.