Chelsea Fire Department receives drone grant from the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program

The Chelsea Fire Department in Birmingham, receives a grant from the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program, whose motto is “Eyes in the Sky for Every Department in Need.”

Chelsea Fire Department receives drone grant

Done through a nationwide program through Airborne Works, departments can apply for the grant. The departments that are selected will receive a drone valued at about $1,700.

280 Living reports that, Lt. Stephen Gunnels said this is the department's first drone, and it is looking at getting a FLIR thermal imaging camera attachment for it as well.

“Once we were awarded the donation grant, we started going over what we could use it for,” Gunnels said. “We have already used it for photography for a fire investigation. We flew it above the house and saw where the concentration of where the fire was.”

Gunnels said that the drone can also be used for other purposes such as searching for missing people, flying over buildings to see heat signatures, taking photos for investigations, or to investigate bushfires along railroad tracks.

Chelsea Fire Department Receives Drone Grant From The National Public Safety Drone Donation Program 1

“We can fly the drone down the track and see where the fire is without having to try to walk around and find other ways to get to it,” he said.

It took about a month for the department to receive the drone after the grant had been awarded. During this time Gunnels took a course and successfully completed his exam. He is currently working on developing a standard training procedure and on a training curriculum so that others can become certified as well.

“You can fly up to a mile and a half from the actual controller, and the [Federal Aviation Administration] limits you to 400 feet in typical situations,” Gunnels said. “That is plenty for what we're doing.”


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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