Los Angeles Fire Department uses UAS for first time as it battles Skirball Fire



According to KTLA, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) deployed its UAS for the first time on Dec. 7, as the department battled the Skirball Fire burning near the Bel-Air neighborhood in California.

Two of the department’s eight UAS were used to conduct reconnaissance for about 30 minutes, as one UAS provided visuals of property damage, while the other located hotspots. After the hotspots were located, firefighters or a water drop were dispatched to the exact location where they were needed.

Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas, who announced that the UAS would be used during a press conference on the morning of Dec. 7, said that the department is “very, very proud of that new technology.”

Earlier in the week before these flights were made, the FAA certified the LAFD’s UAS program, clearing the way for the department to conduct its first flights with the technology. The LAFD says that its eight UAS, which altogether cost about $50,000, will replace the alternative of renting an infrared camera and flying it in a helicopter, which is more expensive.

Once the department's UAS program moves forward, the LAFD will find other ways to utilize its UAS, and there will be no shortage of firefighters around to perform these aerial missions, as 70 firefighters already have their certification to fly UAS.

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