No, we are seriously asking.
Ever since we launched dronesforfirefighting.com, we have received a lot of great feedback. However, by far the most common email we get goes something like this:
My fire department is considering adding a drone unit to our department, to be a dispatchable asset in our multi-county coverage area for police, EMS, HAZMAT, and fire emergencies. We need the frame to be extremely durable and it needs to be able to livestream visible light and infrared video to an on site laptop and/or mobile device. It needs to be fully GPS enabled and we would like it to come with at least two batteries that can be easily swapped out in the field. This will be a very high profile unit, so we need to get this right. Our budget is $2,000. If you could point us in the right direction, I would really appreciate it.
As is the case with most customers seeking drone solutions, the technology exists to solve the problem at hand, but it costs way more than the allotted budget.
If the inquirer is set on the $2,000 price cap, we tend to point people to a DJI Phantom or a 3DR IRIS+. They capture great video and are easy to learn to fly but there is nothing that specializes them as ‘drones for firefighters.’
If the budget has a little breathing room, we introduce people to DSLR Pro’s Nighthawk Kit, which is just a Phantom repurposed with an FLIR camera and a dual-monitor receiver setup.
It may not be indestructible and it may put them $1,000 over budget, but the Nighthawk is the closest we can get to fulfilling the customer’s request.
At least until they start selling drones at Army surplus stores.
But at the end of the day, the answer to “what drones are firefighters using?” is going to come from the fire rescue community not the drone community.
So, again, we are seriously asking. What drones are you using?
If work in fire safety or emergency response and are working with a drone or have at least looked into it, we want to hear about your experiences.
Everyone seems to be asking similar questions and we figured the best way to find the best answers was to start a dialogue.
You can send an email to [email protected] and tell us your story or just leave a comment below.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com