Press release

Fire Service introduce an ‘eye in the sky’ drone to support firefighters at incidents

Drone photo

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has introduced a state-of-the-art drone to their firefighting response to provide unique aerial intelligence at live incidents across Essex.

The drone will bring additional support to firefighters at incidents by providing live aerial imagery, previously not available, to help bring the fire to a safer, quicker conclusion.

The introduction of the drone comes from report recommendations following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire. Drones are already being used by many UK fire services who report the benefits are including; monitoring fire spread, gathering information of the structural integrity of the building and confirmation of safe areas.

ECFRS’s drone has unparalleled intelligence. It’s key features include a thermal imaging camera, live streaming, additional lighting, video recording and a loud speaker to give instructions or reassurance to members of the public.

The drone is piloted by members of the Urban Search and Rescue team, Bryn Jones and Tom Herbert who have been through specialist training and approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Crew Manager Bryn Jones said: “From arriving on scene, we can have the drone in the air within 5 minutes.

“The drone technology also has thermal imagery, which is extremely vital in identifying hotspots and heat sources. The information can be given to the fire crews which will help them extinguished the fire safely. The thermal imagery feature also helps if we are looking for missing people, people in the water, or thermal radiation from a fire.”

The drone has been deployed twice, most recently at a large fire in an industrial warehouse in Southend that saw ten fire engines, two aerial ladder platforms and over 60 firefighters at the scene. The drone provided live aerial footage to our fire officers who were managing the incident.

Bryn adds: “The drone gives the incident commander a much improved situational awareness, so not only would they be able to see the fire or the incident they are dealing with but much further afield, including premises that the incident may be affecting and any road networks.

“We can stream the footage to other officers or other agencies who may need to see the footage who aren’t at scene but could have an important part to play in resolving the incident.

“By introducing state-of-the art technology we are able to provide unrivalled on the spot insight to the fire officers in charge at scene. 

“These drones will make the incident ground a much safer place for firefighters, partner agencies and the public in Essex.”

Essex Police and Fire Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, said “This technology will help our firefighters be more effective and use their resources more appropriately and safely. Importantly it will also help them save lives and keep our communities safe.”

Drone footage from Southend Progress Road fire

The drone was recently deployed to a large warehouse fire near Southend.

The fire started at 7:15am on Saturday 27 May in Progress Road, Eastwood. Six fire engines were sent to the scene and requested the assistance of a further four crews as well as two Aerial Ladder Platforms, a Water Bowser and an Incident Command Unit. 

Incident details

Video file

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