The Fire Department of New York, or FDNY, provides fire rescue and emergency medical services to 8.5 million residents in the five boroughs of New York City. So, naturally, we were stoked when two of New York’s Bravest, John and Mike joined us to share how the FDNY is using firefighting drones in their endeavors.
Back in March 2017, the FDNY launched its first-ever firefighting drone in the Bronx. This was a massive 8-pound tethered drone that cost the department a whopping $85,000.
A tethered drone can (theoretically) stay up in the air forever. But this was not the only reason WHY the department went with this expensive drone with somewhat limited capabilities.
Misguided safety concerns and negative perceptions about a nascent and hugely beneficial technology also played a huge role in this decision.
As of date, John and Mike reveal that the FDNY is using the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual. This drone, which is equipped with an EO (Electro-optical) and thermal sensor, is priced at around $3,500 and is a far more judicious use of the tax-payers money.
Moreover, because of its tiny footprint, this drone can be easily deployed in emergency situations with space constraints.
Another feature that works in the Mavic 2’s favor is its ability to Livestream. Command centers all over the world can easily monitor the ground situation in real-time while the drone is up in the air.
Check out our comprehensive review to learn more about this tiny DJI powerhouse.
In this video, John and Mike share how the FDNY is using the DJI Mavic Enterprise Dual to fight large-scale fires. We also debate the pros and cons of tethered drones in great detail here.
As per John, the biggest challenge when it comes to using firefighting drones is the nature of the job. Because everything they do is on the fly, planning and getting the necessary flight approvals becomes exponentially more complex.
Navigating TFR’s is a constant struggle. With flight restrictions normally present around the Trump Tower and many other significant locations around the city, the FDNY has also to contend with additional restrictions when a major event like the US Open or the annual marathon is hosted in the city.
The absence of Atti mode on the Mavic 2 is another deterrent, particularly when flying in interference-heavy environments. Switching over to Atti mode can prevent a flyaway in event of a signal loss.
“Departments have to look at the bigger picture than the purchase of a drone. It doesn’t stop there…with their funding. There is training involved. There is manpower involved. Just because they get a grant to purchase a drone doesn’t mean that it stops there.” ~Mike, FDNY
Last but certainly not least, Inadequate training and lack of proper systems can also hinder the success of a drone program – particularly as departments try to scale up their efforts.
You can check out the entire interview by going here.
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