In May 2021, a member of the FLYMOTION training division was off-site visiting a client of ours based in Louisiana. In between demonstrations, a call came through the radio alerting them of a structure fire. In this case, it was a large single-family home that caught fire and was quickly and heavily engulfed in flames. Luckily, Justin was traveling with two flagship DJI enterprise drones—the newly-released DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced and the DJI Matrice 300 RTK.
Once Justin arrived on scene, he asked permission to deploy our UAS. Once the incident commander gave the green light, Justin first deployed the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced. The goal of getting the lightweight UAS airframe airborne first was primarily to gain full 360-degree situational awareness of the property. The second goal of fire rescue drone operations is and should always be providing overwatch during the entirety of the call, until it is cleared.
Visibly, there was a column of smoke that emerged through the roof. For fire rescue professionals on the ground, this presented a visibility challenge of where to direct the hose lines to combat the source of the flames.
With Justin piloting the Enterprise Advanced, he utilized the high-resolution 640×512 thermal to see through the smoke. Flames that were hidden from eyesight on the ground were now clear as day with the thermal sensor overhead. Combating this structure fire with a thermal sensor overhead allowed fire rescue to gain control of the fire faster and placed a major emphasis on improved firefighter safety.
After the fire was contained, Justin landed the Enterprise Advanced and deployed the Matrice 300 RTK with the Zenmuse H20-T payload attached. The H20-T payload packs a powerful 20-megapixel zoom sensor providing a 23x hybrid optical zoom and 200x maximum digital zoom. It was necessary to incorporate the zoom capability alongside the thermal during this time of vulnerability.
With most of the fire suppressed, hot spots still presented a threat to firefighter safety via the risk of re-ignitions. It was at this point in the call, firefighters were entering the home. Our pilot hovered directly above the house and set the isotherms on the thermal to display hot spots ranging between 200 degrees and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeing very clear hot spots allowed the incident commander to direct the hose lines to the appropriate places.
The Take-Away: The high-powered zoom camera allowed for even sharper detail of exactly what was still burning—a huge value add for firefighter safety and keeping the house from reigniting. Providing additional technology support through drone operations during a fire call presents many valuable benefits to save agencies money, time, and most important, lives of innocent bystanders and those who serve in public safety.
To catch the After Action Report video, please watch on our FLYMOTION YouTube channel. Thank you for reading!
One night in the United Kingdom, a man was traveling down the road. It was wintertime so the weather outside was undesirable to say the least. The temperature had dropped below zero, so traffic would have been light due to everyone staying inside to keep warm. As the man was traveling, he lost control of his vehicle, crashing on the side of the road. Authorities were called, but when they arrived on the scene the man was nowhere to be found. There was simply no trace of him. He had vanished without a trace. Those who responded quickly called for a search team, believing he wouldn’t have gone far due to the freezing temperatures. The team on the ground searched for the man, but he was still nowhere to be found. They search went on and more time passed, but still no sign of him. The responders were stumped, finding themselves wondering where the man was, if he was in need of medical aid, or if he had just walked away unharmed. After the lengthy search on foot, they decided to launch a UAS equipped with a thermal imaging payload. Within minutes, they found the man collapsed in a ditch nearly 500 ft away. The UAS was able to lead rescuers directly to where he was, allowing them to administer first aid.
Thermal cameras are becoming more and more common in public safety, inspection, and several other industries. But why now? Was there something previously keeping thermal imaging out of these industries? Not necessarily, but thermal devices are much more accessible now than before.
What is thermal?
In order to completely understand the benefits of thermal imaging, it may be helpful to understand what thermal imaging actually does. A human eye can only visualize objects that have light reflecting directly off of it. Thermal imaging uses wavelengths that the human eye cannot recognize on its own and converts the signal into an image that our eyes can see. Essentially, it reveals what the human eye cannot.
How do people benefit from thermal imaging?
Technology can enhance human capabilities in unimaginable ways, and thermal imaging is no exception. Visual light does not affect these cameras which enables them to see through cover, such as smoke or darkness, to reveal what lies behind it. One of industries that benefits from these capabilities the most are public safety agencies during night operations, fire rescue, or search and rescue missions. This technology allows first responders to find dangerous hotspots, navigate tough terrain safely, and locate those who are in need more efficiently.
Thermal Imaging in Public Safety
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of success stories about how public safety agencies use thermal imaging to rescue individuals. Access to this kind of technology is vital. Airborne thermal imaging makes a difference in saving the lives of the responders and those who are being responded to. We provide solutions equipped with the tools you need when the calls come. Aerial thermal imaging is easier to own and operate than you probably realize! Go to flymotionus.com to view all of the solutions we supply and get the most out of your missions.