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Flying with the Fire Department

Joined
Jul 8, 2016
Messages
18
Likes
10
Age
69
Location
Porterville, CA
#1
I work for a small rural newspaper. I recently had the opportunity to speak to the local Fire Chief while they were on a training exercise cutting through the roof of a building scheduled for demolition.
I was hoping to get approval to fly to cover stories for the paper. However, he was very enthusiastic about aerial coverage. He asked if I had my drone with me (of course), so I put it up to get some shots of their training on the roof. The Chief said if I have a press pass, he'll put me in the command center when a fire occurs.
My question is, Does anyone have experience with flying around structure fires? I'm concerned about heat generation being too much for the Typhoon.

Any suggestions?

Thanks
 

Steve Carr

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 15, 2015
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1,942
Location
Bessemer, MI
#3
Getting close for fire video isn't really necessary. I think more information is gained from an overall view. As Eagle Eye points out, staying away from smoke, embers, heat and ash is primary. Also, hovering and flying in a place away from anything directly below the aircraft is critical. Being in the command center can result in distractions for the pilot. Some departments utilizing a drone for observation and scene assessment assign an observer to the pilot. His job is to relay information but to also make certain the pilot is not distracted by radio traffic or other people. If you gain experience with this kind of activity you may find it useful to use an ET camera and a pair of HDMI googles for an observer.
 
Likes: MarkC

Aerial-Pixel

Approved Vendor
Joined
Dec 23, 2015
Messages
61
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17
Age
40
Location
Xenia, Ohio
Website
www.theinkwall.com
#6
Here's part of the last one I filmed, You seem to get a better view from a distance in my opinion. I wouldn't want to chance interfering with the FD or getting water on the drone, I did get a little bit closer, I don't have it uploaded anywhere, WHIO channel 7 played it, I'll see if I can find it, but never got closer than 150-200ft.
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Messages
1,914
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646
Age
63
Location
Shaw, Gtr Manchester, U.K.
Website
www.flushvision.co.uk
#7
Another thing that one should be cognizant of is the sideways wind shear near a large fire. Yes, one should be aware of heat, etc, from below if flying directly overhead, but if flying to one side and lower down you could have to battle with a strong side wind as the fire drags it in. Best to keep a good distance away in all directions, not just above.
 
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
7,016
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2,838
Location
N. California
#8
I’ve only flown around large debris burns but found standing off the sides about 100’ or so to give better situational awareness. Directly over the flames requires a little more separation for heat dissipation. If the heat of the fire is such your body is uncomfortable that amount of separation will be worse for the H. I watched a large warehouse fire melt PVC home siding over 75’ away.
 
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
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Location
N. California
#10
Is it being done to generate business or enhance a business? Flights like that supporting a professional organization would likely be deemed a commercial activity.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2016
Messages
1,587
Likes
687
Location
Albuquerque NM
#11
Commercial or not, the risk involved would likely require insurance... and that insurance might require a 107 certified pilot, irregardless of commercial activity or compensation.
 

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