WICHITA FALLS, TX
Potential life-saving technology is now in the hands of Wichita Falls first responders. The technology comes in the form of drones.
Now, with just the click of a button, the Wichita Falls Fire Department can soar to new heights. Providing endless possibilities when it comes to special operations like fighting fires or searching for a missing person.
The fire department now has two drones; one with night vision, and the other with a high definition camera. The devices are easy to use and can be monitored in the palm of your hands, according to fire officials.
It was used, one of the first times, at the Ashley Furniture Fire Sunday morning, according to Wichita Falls Fire Chief Jon Reese.
“We needed to commit firefighters on the roof to start doing operations, but roofs are very, very dangerous for firefighters,” said Reese.
Those in charge were able to spot the source of the fire and determine what areas were safe for the firefighters to go, according to Reese.
“It was kind of our first use of it, but we see many, many uses of it in both in training, also in hazmat and in search of missing persons and things like that,” said Reese.
While it was one of the first times they used the drones, it certainly won’t be the last. In high rise buildings, the drones allow them to better track the fire and plan the operation.
The drones will soar up to 400 feet in the air. Once they hit that height it will stay there until controlled to go elsewhere.
They each came with six rechargeable batteries that run 20 minutes each.
Both devices came out to a total of around $7,7000 but were funded through a grant, according to Reese.
“I think the potential is limitless,” said Reese. “Again, this is new technology that’s really starting to find itself in fire services across the United States because the price has come down.
Residents agree that it’s an exciting opportunity.
“I've got a feeling that it’s going to be something that we will see benefits, everyone, in the long run,” said Tina Woods, a Wichita Falls Resident.
Right now, Chief Reese is the only one trained to operate it, but four more people will be heading to Dallas, two from the fire department, and two from the police station, to get trained up on the new technology.
Reese said they don't plan on launching the drones at every incident, but when they do, they plan on collecting the video they record and storing it in their system.