The drones will cost approximately A$5.4 million (US$3.7 million) to be rolled out and will be deployed across ’25 regional areas’, according to Stephanie Cooke, Minister for Flood Recovery, New South Wales Emergency Services and Resilience.
The aircraft will be equipped with satellite communication networks which will enable emergency workers to view landscapes in real time while responding to emergencies. The drones will also be fitted with thermal cameras which will allow them to measure the size of a bushfire, and to detect animals or people in danger on the ground.
FRNSW plans to have around 200 trained drone pilots
FRNSW Bushfire and Aviation Unit Commander Scott Donohoe said the drones can be activated at an emergency scene within minutes: “The drones are stored in our vehicles and ready for immediate use, providing FRNSW commanders with aerial images that can help determine the safest and most effective places to position fire trucks and crews.”
“We are planning to have around 200 firefighters trained to pilot the drones. The available training over several tiers includes sessions on night flying, situational awareness, live streaming, rapid mapping, aerial incendiary use and 3D panoramic skills,” he added.
The drones have already been deployed in the state’s Northern Rivers region as part of recovery efforts in the wake of severe flooding along Australia’s east coast earlier this year, where they are being used to assess infrastructure damage, identify hazardous materials and detect leftover debris.