Take-off for fire service’s unique unmanned drone

The “air imagery unit” can ascend to 400 feet

The “air imagery unit” can ascend to 400 feet

First published in News

Fire chiefs have been testing out a unique firefighting drone in Bury in a bid to improve how they tackle serious blazes.

The unmanned “air imagery unit” is currently being trialled by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

The unit has taken shots of Bury’s new fire station as part of the testing process.

Firefighters also used the drone at a recent incident in Blackrod which involved explosive cylinders.

The unit beams live images of fires to crews on the ground, giving them a clearer view of what they are facing.

After a trial period, the drone could become an essential part of firefighting in Bury and across Greater Manchester.

Watch manager Chris Rainford said: “So far the trial is going really well and the unit has proved very useful for operational crews during incidents.

“Myself and the unit have attended about 10 incidents where we’ve been able to provide a bird’s eye view of the scene — something we’d previously never been able to do.

“On top of this, I’m now going to more training exercises with the unit and will be doing more of these in the coming weeks to assist training and use footage from the air to learn how things can be done better.”

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is understood to be the only fire service in the country to use a drone for tackling fires.

Mr Rainford has a full pilot’s licence to remotely fly the aircraft. Use of the drone is part of the fire service’s large-scale “Future Firefighter” project.

During the trial, the unit will fly up to a maximum of 400ft and across a space of 500 metres, although it has the potential to go much further. It will initially only fly in daylight hours, but the fire service expects to provide 24-hour cover by the end of this month.

The Future Firefighting Project is looking at how new technology and equipment can be used to do things quicker, safer, and with less impact on the environment.

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