When establishing a fire rescue drone program, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind. That's why we've put together this helpful checklist of key items.
□ Are You Compliant with FAA Regulations?
Before your department can fly legally, you'll first need to determine whether you'll be operating under individual Part 107 certifications or obtaining a Certificate of Authorization (FAA COA) from the FAA. Either path is legal and appropriate in most circumstances, but navigating the intricacies of filing and maintaining a COA, or passing the Part 107 test (and applying for the necessary waivers), can be daunting. It helps to know which path is best for your department before you start the process, which is why we're always ready to chat in order to help you understand all of your regulatory options.
If you'd like more information on COA's and Part 107 certification, check out our GUIDE TO CERTIFICATE AUTHORIZATION.
□ Do You Have Written Policies & Procedures?
Having standard operating procedures and drone policies in place is crucial to having an unimpeachable fire department drone drone program. Your operations manual should include step-by-step procedures for the different situations you are likely to encounter. Whether you have experience writing SOP's yourself, or need assistance, Skyfire can help directly, or use our nationwide network of public safety drone programs, to put you in contact with nearby agencies to compare notes.
□ Do You Have Proper Safety Procedures and Training in Place?
One of the main components in obtaining your COA is demonstrating that you've established a training regimen to ensure every pilot knows when, where, and how to use drones for your department. Knowing the FAA rules is one thing, but creating a training program and putting it into place is another.
□ Is Your Community on Board?
Will your city council grant you the budget you need to successfully launch your drone program? Getting community buy-in may be difficult unless you can demonstrate the need and value of such a program. Often drones can safely go where no one else can, so you can demonstrate the value of the use of drones for search and rescue, scene size-up, disaster surveillance and more. Tallying up ways your department could have used a drone in the past year can be a great way to show how useful drones will be.
□ Do You Know What UAS, Cameras and Equipment You’ll Need For the Situations You’ll Encounter?
Selecting the right equipment for your needs is an important step in starting your fire drone program. Things you’ll need to take into consideration are:
- Weather Conditions & Temperatures: Will you need to operate in high winds, rain, sub-zero or scorching temperatures?
- Payload: What kinds of cameras do you need?
- Distance & Battery Life: How far can you fly and for how long? How can flight time be extended?
You’ll likely need more than one UAS for different scenarios, so be sure to consult with a trusted source before buying anything. Skyfire Consulting can help you determine the right equipment for your needs and we will even train you in the specific use of each unit and camera type.
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