The Dutch fire service is getting its own aviation organization, which will enable the immediate use of drones in the case of large-scale fires, chemical accidents and other serious incidents.
“The use of unmanned aerial systems requires a completely different way of looking, thinking and acting. That’s why the coordination must be done by specialists who also know what’s going on in the air space,” comments Stephan Wevers, chair of Brandweer Nederland, the Dutch fire service association.
“Drones are our eyes, ears and noses in the air. The use of optical and thermal imaging cameras enables us to localize the seat of the fire rapidly, so that we can direct our firefighters to the right spot to extinguish the blaze. We can also locate any people still inside the building,” says the fire chief.
The first drones will be in use in the eastern Netherlands before the end of this year, and Wevers expects a nationwide network of dozens of unmanned aerial systems to become operational in the course of next year. “We still have to wait for a nationwide permit, but I think that will be arranged quite quickly. Our own aviation organization already complies with the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate’s strict requirements and we’re now busy training people up – and that training course is tough, make no mistake about it. You need to know absolutely everything there is to know about aviation rules to be allowed to pilot such an aircraft, and each drone has a unique PH number.”
Tests are currently being conducted using drones. “It just so happens that we used a drone yesterday morning to trace the seat of a fire during a blaze at a recycling company,” says Wevers. “And with success, because as soon as we got the images on the iPad we knew exactly where best to enter the building.”
Thanks to the test period, a drone can now be airborne within five minutes. “That’s important in incidents in which every second counts sometimes,” adds Wevers.
Source: De Telegraaf newspaper