Published On: Wed, Jun 28th, 2017

Drones to support future fire disaster management

DronesCAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – DRONES are earmarked to assume an increasingly important role in firefighting and disaster management, an expert has aid in the wake of the worst wildfire to strike the southern Cape coast, South Africa in over 150 years.
JJ Rebello, Foreign Government Relations Manager at Airborne Drones South Africa, said the remote-controlled aerial vehicles (UAVs) would not only improve the effectiveness of firefighting efforts but would also reduce the risk to human life during firefighting operations.
They also stand to limit damage to assets by enabling firefighters to work proactively, rather than reactively, the expert said.
Rebello said commercial drones could withstand temperature extremes from below 5 degrees Centigrade, up to 50 degrees Centigrade, and they can be flown to an altitude of 4 500 metres, making it possible for firefighters to deploy drones over areas where fires were active.
With the use of advanced thermal imaging cameras transmitting data to command centres, they can identify people or animals, even where visibility is limited by darkness, smoke or vegetation, so allowing emergency teams to pinpoint exactly where assistance is needed, he said.
“Thermal imaging cameras also support proactive firefighting measures, by mapping hotspots where flare-ups could occur,” Rebello explained.
Rebello noted in the security industry, it was estimated that a drone could take the place of 12 foot soldiers.
“The same might apply in disaster management,” he said.
“Sending in technology reduces risk to human life and allows resources to be deployed only where assistance is needed.”
Drones were also harnessed by civilians who filmed the devastation in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, allowing homeowners and the rest of the world to witness the events.
CAJ News

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