A firefighter’s friend

drone-heat-shot-of-trainingA recent Thursday night CLFD training session at the city’s burn facility included use of the department’s new drone. The drone was purchased with donations and is equipped with either a color camera or the FLIR night vision camera. The CLFD says the drone will be a great tool for finding a lost person or at a large scale fire.-Submitted photos.

Drone gives CLFD valuable eyes in the sky

by Marianne Morf

The Clear Lake Fire Department has added a new weapon to its firefighting arsenal.  A drone.

The unmanned aerial vehicle “UAV” is a DJI Inspire 1,  equipped with two controllers, two iPads, extra batteries and an FLIR thermal camera. The $7,000 FLIR camera detects heat changes so it can see in the dark or detect changes in temperature during the daytime. The UAV also has a high definition color camera, as well.  The package was purchased for about $10,000 with the help of donations.

According to CLFD Captain Jim Finstad, the UAV will help the department in countless ways.

“Say we have a missing child lost in a corn field. We can use the UAV to fly above the corn field and the thermal camera will be able to see in the dark and through the corn for the warmth of the child and assist in finding the lost child,” he explained.  “Last year in Algona they had a person go missing in a canoe and were able to use a UAV to quickly locate the missing canoe and the gentleman who was having a medical issue and by being able to find him faster with the UAV they were able to get him to the hospital faster. Or the kayaker missing in the marsh in Ventura. The VFD located her fairly fast before the sun went down. In both of these cases if it would have been after dark it would have been so much slower and hard to find the missing person. With the UAV and FLIR thermal camera it would hopefully be faster.”

Drones are fast becoming the firefighter’s secret weapon in large fires or at disaster scenes.  Typically when the call comes, firefighters are forced to rush into a blaze or dis-

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