Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) launched a trial of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a demonstration of the technology at the Service’s training centre in Earlswood near Swansea for Welsh Government Public Services Minister, Leighton Andrews AM.
The UAV, also known as a drone, was purchased thanks to a £20,000 grant from the Welsh Government.
MAWWFRS Chief Fire Officer, Chris Davies said: “New technology such as this UAV allows us to improve the safety of our firefighters by enabling the more efficient resolution of operational incidents.”
“The UAV can provide live video footage and still photos to allow an Incident Commander to plan for an incident, allowing us to get an overhead view from up to 400ft above activity on the ground.”
“During wildfires, such as those that devastated the valley communities back in the Spring, a UAV could be dispatched in areas of highest risk to support firefighting operations and to possibly identify those attempting to set fires.”
“The additional reconnaissance during search and rescue operations that the UAV provides could also be invaluable in being able to quickly locate any individuals or animals that may be trapped, and subsequently allow us to direct resources to them quickly.”
Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews said: “I’m very pleased to attend the launch of this innovative piece of equipment and to see it action. I have no doubt it will be extremely helpful in search and rescue operations and in tackling and preventing fires, particularly grass fires.”
“Grass fire outbreaks put firefighters at great risk, and prevent them from dealing with other incidents. They threaten property, cause widespread community concern, destroy the environment and kill and injure livestock and wildlife. All involved – government, the fire service, the police, other agencies, and communities themselves – must work together to tackle this menace. I’m pleased to see the way technology is being used to help tackle this and I am delighted to provide funding for this innovative new approach.”
Following an initial 3 months of evaluation, if successful the trial will continue for up to 12 months when a decision on a wider roll-out will be taken.