It's been a while since we've had the opportunity to head out to the fireground to do a demonstration, but we're always glad to be working alongside firefighters. Not only is it a dynamic opportunity to show the life-saving potential of drone technology, but you honestly can't find a nicer group of people than firefighters to hang around with – plus, they bring snacks!
This was almost a homecoming for me... The firefighters you see here are from Clackamas Fire District #1, which I covered extensively during my tenure as a newspaperman. In fact, many years ago, I captured an iconic image of (now Captain) Jason Ellison, whom you met in this video, as he was battling a wildland fire in Oregon City.
This was also our first demonstration since receiving the new FLIR VUE PRO, which proved to be every bit as potent as we had imagined in the context of firefighting operations. Don't get me wrong: our Tau2 always worked brilliantly and gave us an early opportunity to show how powerful the union of drones and thermal imaging could be; however, it was kind of a chore to make it work with an FPV system, and also to cleanly capture the thermal video.
With the FLIR VUE PRO, both of those problems are gone, and we get the ability to change color palettes at the flip of a switch, and – and! – it costs less, too. No doubt this will put this airborne thermal imaging capacity into the hands of a whole lot of additional public safety agencies, and that's all for the best.
Finally, you can go ahead and file this one under “Carrying coals to Newcastle.” As a matter of habit, I tossed our “disaster kit” into the car before we headed out for this exercise. Basically, it's a heavy-duty first aid kit with a couple of drone-specific accessories – like a fire extinguisher and a machete – inside a high-visibility duffel bag.
It was only once we arrived on scene and I went to take it out of the car that I looked up and realized I was surrounded by fire engines, loaded down with the very same equipment – only better in every conceivable way – and people far more qualified than me to use it. Still, like the Boy Scouts, I suppose it's always best to “Be prepared!”