From investigating the scene of a fire to helping with rescues, a new drone will be a boon for the Woolwich Fire Department, says chief Dennis Aldous.
The equipment, a DJI M30T enterprise drone, was purchased with a $22,763 grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation of Canada.
“We can use it at fire scenes, and when we do our fire investigations – it gives you a bird’s eye view, the ability to look around and see where any hotspots are,” said Aldous, noting the drone is equipped with high definition cameras and thermal imaging.
In an outdoor rescue scenario, the drone can help pinpoint the scene, perhaps in conjunction with cellphone-tower data, which is becoming more precise. The next generation of 911 monitoring allows for more accurate locating of calls, he added.
“If someone’s [injured] on the trail, we can get the coordinates and we can actually type those in and it’ll actually fly towards them.
“We can also use this for emergency management. In the wintertime, when it’s flood season, we can check ice levels without putting somebody in jeopardy – you can fly down, and we can see where the breakups are in around West Montrose and keep an eye on things that way.”
The drone provides an additional perspective that will help township firefighters do their jobs that much more effectively, said Aldous.
With the drone now in hand, the department is currently busy training to pilot the device, which will be dispatched out of the St. Jacobs station. Its usefulness could even extend beyond the township – “We can use it to aid other fire departments as well within the region,” he said.
The grant to the Woolwich Fire Department was one of 13 in Ontario totalling $362,000 during the most recent grant cycle. The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation of Canada has awarded 319 grants to public safety organizations since 2015, when Firehouse Subs first set up shop in Canada.