They’ve been a major enemy to crews fighting B.C. wildfires in recent years, but drones are now poised to become a key ally.
Erin Catherall with the BC Wildfire Service says after two seasons of trials, the aircraft are now being phased into regular firefighting operations.
“They’re able to detect really hard to find hot spots and give coordinates that crews can then use to assist with locating and extinguishing the hot spots within the fire perimeter, so it just increases the efficiency of our operation.”
Cheaper, safer, and able to fly whenever necessary
Catherall says drones played a key role in fighting stubborn fires in B.C.’s peace region this summer, cutting costs and increasing safety.
She says drones can also be made available during times when traditional aircraft can’t fly– like at night.
“With them being operational during the night time, when helicopters aren’t flying, you’re able to maximize that operational time. So you’re able to get a product out early in the morning, for crews to be able to action those hot spots.”
Last year, recreational drones caused fire crews big headaches, forcing them to ground key firefighting aircraft for hours.