The Alameda County Sheriff's Department has deployed advanced DJI drones from China to combat the increased wildfire risk in the challenging terrain of the East Bay Hills. Following a particularly wet winter season, the rapid growth and subsequent drying out of wild grasses across vast tracts of land have heightened the Wildfire risk.
“These drones are a crucial source of security for our ground teams working in dangerous conditions,” explained Alameda County Sheriff Deputy John Cota, a former airline industry professional turned public servant. “They offer real-time information about what to expect around the corner, enhancing the safety and efficiency of our Firefighters.”
Cota now leads a drone unit in a crucial inter-agency collaboration. They deploy military-grade technology to monitor and tackle potential fires, particularly in hard-to-reach places.
“Being able to fly the drone around the fire's perimeter, gather coordinates, and relay these back to the office for map production, significantly aids in developing effective strategies to combat the fire,” Cota explained.
Invaluable teamwork between the drone unit and Alameda County Fire Captain Eric Truax is boosting the fight against wildfires. These state-of-the-art drones, fitted with thermal imaging cameras, advanced sensors, and real-time data processing capabilities, offer a bird's eye view of the complex fire situation. This enables faster and more informed decision-making.
“This technology gives us real-time information, allowing us to track fire progress, calculate fire behavior, and assess the time needed to deploy resources for fire containment or structure protection,” said Truax. “We can then develop our plan, allocating our resources based on this information.”
Cota emphasized, according to CBS News Bay Area, that response time is critical in emergencies, but safety is paramount.
The deployment of these drones, Cota said, “protects the citizens and the guys on the ground,” and could be a lifesaving difference. He added, “We would rather send in one, a canine, or two, this technology, versus sending in a human being.”
With each season bringing more severe wildfires due to extreme weather events, the integration of Police drones offers a beacon of hope in staying ahead of the flames.
However, firefighters urge the public not to fly personal drones in wildfire areas, as this forces firefighting drones, helicopters, and planes to ground, hampering the firefighting efforts.
The drone flown by Cota is a Chinese-made drone, the DJI Matrice 30 that can be equipped with a thermal camera.
Photos courtesy of CBS News.
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