Clone of South Glengarry fire utilizes drones
Seaway News

SOUTH GLENGARRY, Ontario – For approximately a year now, fire crews in South Glengarry have been using Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) to assist with emergency response and investigations.

Fire Chief Dave Robertson has not heard of any other departments in the area that utilize drones for this purpose, but he is aware of a paramedic unit in Renfrew with a similar program.

“In the past year we have used it multiple times,” said Chief Robertson. “At structure fires, it gives us an aerial view of an entire scene. We have used it for brush fires and we can use it to investigate large land areas in short orders. We have also used it to investigate incidents in regards to burn permits, and (have obtained) some recording of accident sites.”

Chief Robertson said that although the program is in its infancy and currently only has one individual who operates the drone, other crew members have taken an interest in learning how to operate the machine. Due to cost and the program’s recent inception, the department plans to continue utilizing an entry level RPAS.

“At this point, we are not upgrading to the other technology such as thermal or mapping (systems),” said Chief Robertson. “But we will see what the future might bring.”

The South Glengarry department is currently in the process of licensing the RPAS and pilot according to changes proposed by Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), which will be enforced in June 2019. Flying regulations now apply to recreational and commercial drone pilots who both require a Pilot Certificate.

Chief Robertson is in favour of the new regulations and feels they will be beneficial to aviation safety.

“From an EMS standpoint…some of the incidents that have happened with the private use of drones interfering with emergency services has become an issue,” said Chief Robertson, who believes the new laws will help keep drones in safe areas.