Phoenix Fire Department uses drones on mountain rescues

Phoenix fire is now using drones to help save lives on our mountain trails. It serves as a birds-eye view for Phoenix fire when responding to emergency calls.

“This has a dual camera so; it has an infrared camera which allows us to see hot spots and brush fires. It will hopefully help us find hikers on the mountain in the wintertime as the body heat signature against the cold mountain,” says Capt. Brian Geranen, Phoenix Fire Department.

Infrared also comes in handy in the dark and during limited visibility. Phoenix fire unveiled its new drone program this month. They received three drones and 8 fire captains are now FAA certified operators after undergoing months of training.

“We have our controller, our batteries, our charging station and this is the drone itself,” says Capt. Geranen.

The drones have already been used in different situations over the past two weeks: a commercial building fire just north of downtown and during Thursday’s rescue of eight hikers off Camelback.
“It was mainly used for recon force, and this is exactly what we are looking for to have that in the air on our mountain rescues. It allows us to get visual confirmation of not only where the customer or hiker is but also, at least a visual understanding of their condition,” says Capt. Evan Gammage, Phoenix Fire Department.

The drones help make rescues more efficient and limit the time firefighters are out in the heat.

“We’re never going to be able to replace the people who hike up the mountain; those men and women do it every day. Our goal is to just supplement them and hopefully help them find them faster,” says Capt. Geranen.



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