When it comes to preparedness, fire prevention, and disaster response, Buncombe County Fire Marshals are looking to put an eye in the sky with a new drone program. Following the approval of the FY24 budget, Emergency Services has procured and will roll out the use of an Emergency Services Drone.
The Mavic 3 Enterprise Thermal Drone will be used in multiple ways to bolster fire investigations, fire service support for lost person searches and wildfires, Emergency Management support during floods and other natural disasters, and can be deployed in a post-disaster situation for recovery and damage assessment.
The drone capabilities include:
- Forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera technology
- Thermal imaging with multiple screens to set heat signatures and ranges
- Camera technology with zoom and clarity up to 400 feet in altitude
- Speaker communication technology for communications to someone in distress
- Live feed video transmission to remote locations and command facilities
- All flights are recorded to a cloud base
- All flights are tracked by cloud-based technology to ensure an invasion of privacy doesn't occur and can be reviewed by the FAA
Asst. Fire Marshal Justin Honeycutt, EMS Quality Control Officer Will Key, and Asst. EMS Operations Supervisor Chris Dorsey have all acquired their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Drone Pilot licensure.
Buncombe Fire Marshals have also been operating a "Mini-III" drone since early 2023. This drone is primarily for fire investigations and only takes video and photographs.