US Representative says drones could fight wildfires

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado says drones could be used to fight fires. Here is an excerpt from an article in The DAily Sentinel:

..Drones could be equipped with fire suppression equipment that could be used on small, remote fires, limiting the growth of the blazes and possibly circumventing the need to call in firefighters, Tipton said.

Firefighters could “see a fire start up, send in a drone and maybe stamp it out,” Tipton said.

The vehicles would have to be modified to deliver retardant and will need to withstand heat, Tipton said.

Drones also could be used to provide better information to firefighters on the ground, especially in smoky areas that limit visibility and inhibit radio transmissions, he said…

There is little doubt that drones could be used on fires. Lockheed Martin and K-Max demonstrated that in October when an optionally-piloted K-Max helicopter hauled cargo to a designated spot and dropped water on a simulated fire. As of October, 2013 two unmanned K-Max helicopters had flown more than 1,000 missions in Afghanistan and hauled more than 3 million pounds of cargo that would have otherwise been transported by trucks, which are vulnerable to roadside bomb attacks. One goal is to save lives by reducing Marines’ exposure to improvised explosive devices on cargo convoys.

K-Max helicopter
A K-Max helicopter at the Custer, SD airport, April 2, 2016. This one has not been modified to be remotely piloted.

The biggest issue for using unmanned aircraft on fires is getting the FAA and land managers to address the issue of safely incorporating the systems into the fire aviation environment.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.

5 thoughts on “US Representative says drones could fight wildfires”

  1. NITROFIREX is an innovative idea patented in USA some years ago. The Aerospace industry is now realizing that our idea is feasible, in fact DARPA has launched the Gremlins programme that is based on NITROFIREX idea to fight against wildfires during night.

    Why is now the US industry focused on night time aerial firefighting with drones? How can we get support to build our first technological demonstrator?

  2. Fire Aviation this week is full of interesting stuff. Voted L.A.I. glass balls, which evidently didn’t turned out as planned. Second, LA.I. ………………..”stamp out a fire with drones”
    Kaman (K Max) has been very successful with their “drone” on steroids, keep your eye on this one. Also this week, the ultimate stamp-out-the-fire tool, Global Supertankers 747.

  3. Hmm interesting idea. I see the positive aspects of sending a drone for recon, but not for extinguishing a fire in the wilderness. Unless than drone can mop-up, cold trail, and do a six hour watch. I have seen multiple times where a type 1 helicopter will complete a fuel cycle on a fire smaller than 1 acre, and when we show up there is still work to do.

  4. Firefighters don’t tell politicians how to be liars, so politicians shouldn’t tell firefighters how to do our job. Until we get a drone that can spend a day or two crawling on it’s knees to be sure the fire is out

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