Dublin Fire Brigade to fight fire with flyer, with drones by end of year

10 Nov 2015

DFB in action recently. Image via DFB/Facebook

By the end of the year, Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) might be sending drones in to fight fires alongside firefighters with the brigade in the final stages of completing its guidelines.

It seems inevitable that firefighting drones will quickly become a key part of firefighting services across the world due to their nimbleness and the fact they could reduce the risk to human lives in disaster situations.

And now, according to The Irish Times, DFB is set to be one of the earliest brigades to use the technology, with six of its personnel already trained in how to operate them, with plans to use them initially as a scout to assess different situations.

While DFB is currently in the process of finalising the necessary guidelines before they can be used without prior approval, testing got underway last April following a fire at Ballymount industrial estate.

DFB, however, has been quick to downplay the news, at least in terms of promoting the idea that the next few years will see its crews replaced by drones and firefighting robots.

“It’s very early days. We want to be slow with this and make sure everyone moves along with this rather than being scared off,” said DFB’s Dennis Keeley when asked about their plans for drones. “There is an onus on us that we don’t damage a tool that could be very useful.”

DFB’s Incident Command Unit vehicle was rolled out last year to act as a nerve centre for intelligence and data at a major fire or emergency incident in the capital, and it will be likely that it will be where future drones will be controlled from by one of its senior officers.

“From an operational perspective, to have an overview, an ability to step back from the situation and a quick [visual] of an incident from an aerial shot can be quite advantageous,” Keeley added.

“Where drones operating would come into huge advantage would be with larger wildfires and gorse fires, which we suffer in the summer months and can often have a larger spread.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic