Albemarle County Fire and Rescue Develops Drone Program

Posted: Updated:
Albemarle County Fire and Rescue Albemarle County Fire and Rescue

Albemarle County Fire and Rescue is looking to add eyes in the skies over an emergency scene.

The department is developing an unmanned aerial systems program.

It says a drone could have helped in at least 150 situations over the past year - including a brush fire at Walnut Creek Park and overturned tanker trucks carrying hazardous materials.

Flying a drone first can keep emergency crews from having to rush into harm’s way.

“We could easily get the drone up in the air and take a look at the scope of the incident,” says Shawn Maddox, the ACFR assistant fire marshal. “Or we can look for a kayaker that's on the river, perhaps. Or if we had a hazardous material release in the river, we can see just how far the sheen has gotten or what's being impacted.”

Crutchfield Corporation is donating a $1,600 drone to the department to get the program started.

The department plans to train six fire and rescue responders to become certified Federal Aviation Administration pilots.