KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Kansas City Fire Department started a new program using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) drones to survey an array of scenarios.
“Just the amount of information that we can gather quicker than we could have otherwise is really the benefit of all of it,” KCFD Capt. Tyler Grosser said.
Grosser is the Drone Coordinator at KCFD with eight years of drone piloting experience.
He said the only call a drone wouldn’t be useful in is a basic emergency medical service call. All other aspects of the job can be aided by another aerial perspective.
In a demonstration Monday morning, Grosser showed KSHB 41 the capabilities of the drone — measuring wind speed, temperature, air quality and more.
“The first couple of missions we have had, it’s blown people away at the usability and effectiveness of it,” Grosser said while referencing a massive pallet fire last month.
The drone in that scenario was able to provide thermal imaging to first responders on scene, showing them where the hottest spots were.
“It was a real eye opener for a lot of people on the department that got to watch it real time," Grosser said. "The amount of information that we could gather from just the perspective of an overall view, knowing the temperatures, knowing when things are getting hot from just the radiant heat that we would have never known otherwise, was very pivotal.”
In the future, Grosser said he hopes the drone program will have a 24/7 staffed position with the support to fly in emergencies across the region.
KCFD said the drones can be used in the following scenarios: structure fires, high and low angle rescues, water rescues, natural cover and wildland mitigation, natural disaster operations, wide area search, structural collapse and planned training exercises.