Errington Volunteer Fire Department fundraising to develop drone program

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Errington Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) hopes to add a valuable new tool to its emergency response operations.

The department is organizing a raffle to purchase a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), also known as a drone, for $9,639, according to a fundraising page set up on its website.

EVFD said the drone would be used to locate victims, provide thermal imagery at any type of fire and provide an aerial view of emergency scenes. It would be an invaluable source of information-gathering for fire prevention investigators post-fire incident. 

The department said the drone would also be invaluable to facilitate resource sharing when it responds to a mutual aid call involving numerous other fire departments.

EVFD hopes to purchase the small drone from Candrone in Burnaby. The aircraft would be capable of using thermal imaging, as well as infrared and zoom. It also includes attachments such as a spotlight, speaker and a light beacon, according to EVFD.

Time, research and training have already taken place in order to be prepared to move the program and its drone into potential service, the department said. EVFD has received permission from the Qualicum Beach Operations and Airport Manager to fly in areas near the Qualicum Beach Airport if assistance is needed in or out of its jurisdiction.

EVFD said it already has one certified advanced RPAS pilot and one member-borrowed training drone. The department has used the borrowed drone to assist in incidents and said it has proven invaluable. As the program develops over the coming years, more pilot operators will be added and capabilities will be enhanced, according to the department.

In all jurisdictions a drone could assist in the following:

-Little Mountain cliff incidents;

-Englishman River waterfalls and upstream accidents;

-Sizing up large danger trees over hydro lines and after severe windstorms;

-Checking tops of buildings for dangerous snow loads; 

-Enabling a rapid size-up of any incident;

-Collecting the necessary information in cases where a fire fighter would be at risk;

-Ability to find the most direct route into a wildfire location and find hot spots quickly when the ground entrances are blocked by trees and debris;

-A drone would also be very helpful to the Fire Prevention Officer in his pre-plan documentation to help local businesses adhere to their fire code requirements by enabling him to give them the big picture and encourage them to improve building safety.

The draw is planned for Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. at Station #1, 960 Errington Rd. Winners will be announced on Facebook and EVFD’s website.

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