Grand Forks Fire Department Expands Drone Program with Help from Northern Plains UAS Test Site

The Grand Forks Fire Department in North Dakota is expanding its unmanned aerial systems (UAS) program with the help of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. Chief Gary Lorenz aims to increase the number of trained drone pilots within the department, not only for emergency response but also as a community resource. The collaboration between the fire department and the test site focuses on training, developing the Vantis system, and exploring ways to utilize drones for the benefit of the entire city, reports The James Town Sun.

Fire Department's Drone Capabilities

The Grand Forks Fire Department recently purchased a $10,000 drone that has proven to be highly capable. The drone can identify heat signatures, allowing to direct water streams more effectively when extinguishing fires. By flying above the scene, the drone can also identify compromised parts of a building, enhancing the safety of firefighters and the efficiency of their efforts.

Vision for the Future

Chief Lorenz envisions drones as in the future. The fire department is working alongside the Northern Plains UAS Test Site to develop the Vantis system, 's beyond-line-of-sight program. The goal is to acquire a waiver to fly drones beyond the pilot's visual line of sight in emergency situations, such as searching for missing persons or assisting someone stuck in a river.

Collaboration with the City

In addition to using drones for emergency response, the fire department hopes to collaborate with other city departments to benefit the entire community. An ongoing project involves using drones to capture before-and-after footage of parking lots to demonstrate the impact of traffic diversion efforts. Chief Lorenz also sees potential for collaboration with the city's engineering, water, and wastewater departments.

The Grand Forks Fire Department's partnership with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site is a step towards becoming a model for mid-sized communities implementing UAS programs. By expanding the number of trained drone pilots, developing the Vantis system, and exploring various applications for drones, the fire department aims to enhance emergency response capabilities and provide valuable services to the city as a whole.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, 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 @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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