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A powerful tool for situational awareness and persistent surveillance is a tethered UAS, either a rotary wing quadcopter or hexacopter, capable of maintaining a controlled hover at 150 feet above a fire scene.

A hose, a ladder, an axe, protective gear, a truck, a personal locator device, an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) … Could this be the next technology breakthrough in urban firefighting?

For the last few years. discussions of using a UAS for firefighting have centered around forest fires and how to use unmanned assets to better predict movement, document fuel sources in the path and gather data to support deployment efforts to combat the fire. Now startup companies like Nitrofirex of Spain are developing deployable UAS gliders that will allow users to fight forest fires at night.

So if this could be the future of aerial forest fire fighting, how can a UAS impact the urban or metropolitan firefighter? In light of well-publicized privacy concerns about using unmanned aircraft for law enforcement applications, how does the firefighting community avoid the political issues of incorporating a UAS into the basic tools that are currently used to protect property and save lives of citizens and first responders?

One company working to solve this problem is Information Processing Systems (IPS). For more than 40 years, IPS has specialized in building interoperable communications systems for first responders and the military.

The company’s quickly deployable mobile command vehicles and incident command mobile carts integrate these aerial, ground and subsurface remotely controlled robotic platforms with cameras and sensors into a ground control station. Each UAS is connected with or without a tether to the ground station, which provides a geographic information system software solution for providing a common operating picture to first responders on scene as well as a backhaul via satellite to strategic command.

Image courtesy of MDM Publishing Ltd./International Firefighter.

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