How have drones changed the work of firefighters in Pyrénées-Atlantiques?

Recreational drones have been developing for a few years now, going from simple helicopters in reduced models to real elaborate and very technical flying machines. Some use them for fun, others use them for cinematographic purposes, and among firefighters, for several years, drones have been used as an additional intervention tool.

In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, it was in 2018 that they were introduced for the first time. “We were completely new to this technology, we had to be trained”, explains Commander Julien Nozères, in charge of piloting the drone unit of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques firefighters. Microlight pilot training undertaken by three people in order to carry out tests and acquire equipment before launching the process on a larger scale. Today, there are 10 members of this unit, with for the moment 4 drones, including two equipped with thermal visions. Two additional devices are on the way.

… Useful during fires, floods or for searching people.

“Drones are used as needed. For the operational, it will be useful to us during fires, floods or to search for people. We will be able to scan an area quickly, collect visual information, assess the surface and see what is at stake in order to act accordingly”. A major time saver for firefighters.

A financial gain too, since although the price of these machines is variable (between 1500 euros and 20,000 euros for the most advanced), in the long term, it is always less expensive than taking off and flying a helicopter. “And then the helicopter can have another mission during which it would be more useful. They are kept in special circumstances, for example to provide assistance or for transportation. It cannot be used systematically unlike drones”.


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