HIGH-TECH ATTACK: How our fire season will be fought

IMAGINE being able to predict where the next bushfire will hit and how fast it will travel. Thanks to a new training program, Clarence Valley fire crews will soon have these capabilities.

SIX crew members from Fire and Rescue 306 Grafton joined their colleagues from across northern NSW to participate in a Remote Pilot Aircraft training course designed to help fight future fires from the air.

Fire and Rescue 306 Grafton deputy captain Chris Rumpf practising with one of the new drones.
Fire and Rescue 306 Grafton deputy captain Chris Rumpf practising with one of the new drones. Grafton Fire & Rescue 306

"The 5 day course involved both intensive theory and practical sessions, that is CASA approved," a spokesperson from the 306 crew said. 

"This will enable licensed crew from Grafton Station to fly drones for incident management purposes, providing us an opportunity to reach areas that may have otherwise been inaccessible."

The drones include a camera, video, thermal imaging and light detection and ranging, all of which are used to determine firefront location, spotting over, assessing situations that may be hazardous to the health of a firefighter, and threats to structures within the fire path.

Drone technology will assist with fighting bushfires
Drone technology will assist with fighting bushfires Grafton Fire & Rescue 306

However, that's not all these drones can assist with.

It's understood they can also be used for search and rescue missions, including using thermal imaging to local people during natural disasters like floods, and to cover a much wider area of bushland compared to on foot. 

"From all accounts crew thoroughly enjoyed the experience and expressed gratitude for having been selected to participate in this new program," the spokesperson said.  

"They look forward to being able to share their new found skills with the wider community."



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