New technology for the fire service is not without argument or protest. From the use of new nozzles, tactics, and training, SCBA technology, holographic images on your face shields, fire attack, command & control management systems, thermal imaging cameras etc. sUAV's are no exception and may be the most controversial yet. The potential and obvious benefits are there but the public and civil acceptance is evolving...
The FAA is actually prohibited by Congress from setting rules governing the use of drones by recreational users in a law passed in 2012 as the drones do not interfere with air traffic for drones of a certain size and weight. They can set the rules for your department and other business entities.
Drones have been getting bad press, especially where there is an invasion of someone’s privacy by flying over back yards or bedroom windows, flying too close to airports creating a flying hazard to crashing on the White House lawn triggering a significant federal response. The additional bad press is the use of drones by police performing surveillance to the increased use of large drones by the government to surveil certain populations with facial recognition software, infrared technology and listening devices used to monitor our conversations invading our right to privacy.
Drone use by the fire service is an invaluable tool to improve the ability of the fire departments to perform an actual 360 degree survey AND to look at the roof structure of the building; perform an aerial overview of a wildland fire event; perform a search and rescue for a lost child or hiker, locating flood victims without deploying your staffing resources in the wrong area; ability to penetrate areas of a large open building to perform search in the attempt to locate possible victims or the seat of the fire using thermal imaging or infrared cameras on the UAV. Several departments have adopted the use of drones in their emergency operations.
Kansas City FD
FLIR equipped sUAS strucure fire
FLIR Technology - Aerial applications
FLIR Technology in use
However, with anything of a certain size and flying at a certain altitude, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a license and a case by case review of the proposed use by commercial or business entities and emergency services.
Here is a link to an overview of the current rules and regulations from the FAA:
Emergency Services Waiver - COA
A "Certificate of Waiver or Authorization" (COA) is available to government entities that want to fly a UAS in civil airspace. Common uses include law enforcement, firefighting, border patrol, disaster relief, search and rescue, military training and other government operational missions.
Applicants must submit their COA request through an online system. The FAA then evaluates the proposed operation to see if it can be conducted safely. If granted, the COA allows an operator to use a defined block of airspace and includes special provisions unique to the proposed operation. For instance, a COA may require flying only under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and/or only during daylight hours.
Today, the average time to obtain an authorization for non-emergency operations is less than 60 days, and the renewal period is two years. The agency has expedited procedures to grant one-time COAs for time-sensitive emergency missions such as disaster relief and humanitarian efforts — sometimes in just a few hours.
Code 3 Drone is FAA 107 approved and insured to cover your emergency scene. Infrared (FLIR) and HD Camera available for Structure Fires, Search and Rescue, HARA and LARA, Trench Rescue, Vehicle Extrications, Annex D, MVI, MPI
4K HD scene surveillance
DJI Inspire 1
DJI Phantom 3 Pro
Crime Scene Reconstruct
FASTER 360s THAN EVER BEFORE
Search and Rescue
FAA PART 107 RULES AND PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCIES Training/Application Requirements
New "Part 107" rules released by the FAA on August 29th, 2016 address civil operation of UAVs. They specifically EXCLUDE "Public Operation" of UAVs - including those undertaken by public safety agencies. However, public agencies can choose to allow their operator to fly under the Part 107 framework. This may be an attractive option for fire and police departments, but before making this decision, you should familiarize yourself with the rules for each designation:
What's Allowed Under Public Aircraft Certificate of Authorization (COA) Rules
What's Allowed under Part 107 Civil Aircraft Rules
FAA Certification Consulting
Code 3 Drone is pleased to offer a certification package that covers every step of the process to acquire the FAA COA (Certificate of Authorization). We partner with EmpowerUAV for FAA consulting and training.
The FAA now allows government agencies to self-certify pilots, aircraft, maintenance and currency - making the process much easier than it was just a short time ago. Our comprehensive package covers all COA requirements and can include COA processing and training.