Limerick Fire and Rescue Service is hoping to reach agreement with the Irish Aviation Authority in the coming weeks which will enable it to use drone technology when tackling major emergency incidents across the city and county.
A remotely-operated quadcopter has been acquired and a number of senior officers have received training in it use.
When deployed the drone, which is remotely controlled from the ground, relays a live video feed which will assist firefighters during emergency incidents.
“There is a smartphone app which also allows you to record the footage or take pictures and send them on and we are looking to link it into our on site coordination unit as well,” said Niall Murray assistant chief fire officer who added that Limerick Fire and Rescue Service will be the first in the country to use drone technology.
“The idea came out of the flooding last year in Saint Mary’s Park because during our debriefing it was mentioned and we looked at how can we get one and what do we need to do,” he added.
The DJI Phantom Vision 2+ cost in the region of €1,100 to buy and will be transported on the rostered senior fire officer vehicle.
Before the roll-out of the drone, Limerick Fire and Rescue Service is also hoping to agree protocols for its use with Shannon Air Traffic Control and with the authorities at Limerick Prison given the airspace restrictions which apply in each case.
When operational, it is expected the drone will be deployed primarily during large-scale incidents such as flooding, river incidents and industrial fires.
However, if required, it can also be used for non-emergency tasks such as assessing dangerous structures and other hazardous incidents.