Melbourne Firefighters deploy quadrocopter

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade showed off its newest firefighter today (27 Jan) with a display by a hi-tech, remotely controlled aerial camera platform capable of hovering above fires, detecting hotspots and sending real-time vision back to a central control station.

In a year that marks the centenary of the professional firefighter in Victoria, CyberQuad sets the standard for innovation in firefighting.

MFB believes CyberQuad has huge potential for delivering information from difficult incidents where an aerial perspective would greatly help manage and coordinate the emergency effort. Two of the flying eye-in-the-sky fan-driven aircraft have been purchased; one equipped with a high definition camera, the other with a standard definition camera as well as a thermal imaging camera.

Using the thermal imaging camera allows hot spots that would be invisible to the naked eye to be identified. It is so sensitive it can also pick out the shape of a human being even under dense tree canopies. Still under testing and development, MFB believes it could use CyberQuad in a variety of situations. Major fires such as the incident at Cowper Street, Footscray earlier this month were an example of where aerial intelligence gathering could be of  assistance to firefighters.

“MFB is very open to innovative ways of using new technology to help manage emergencies. CyberQuad is another example of that philosophy. It will undergo significant testing, not just at incidents, but also in how we deploy it, before it goes into service,” said MFB Acting CEO and Chief Officer Shane Wright.

MFB is currently working with staff to train CyberQuad pilots and expects to determine training and deployment protocols in the next few months.

On 20 January MFB also revealed  another milestone in firefighting technology – its new look helmet. The Rosenbauer HEROS-xtreme is believed to be the most advanced firefighting helmet available in Australia and completes the MFB firefighter’s Personal Protection Clothing uniform.

“This year we mark 100 years since the start of professional firefighting in Melbourne and we are seeing real advances in how we identify and manage risk.  MFB firefighters are taking a proactive approach to prevention, preparation and management of emergencies to ensure community safety and resilience looking ahead to the next 100 years.” said CO Wright.