Smith County first responders using drones to fight fires

Local News

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Technology can either hinder or help people. The Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office is using innovation in a positive way. Drones are assisting them while they fight fires in the county.

First responders are using this technology to take their safety precautions and investigation to the next level.

“Because normally we go in, and we’re looking at you know, what’s around us and this allows to actually look from the top down,” said Jay Brooks, Smith County Fire Marshal.

They have two drones. The smaller drone is the one they use on a regular basis. The larger one, also known as “Big Bird”  is used during large-scale fires.

“When you have a fire that’s over a hundred areas, you can’t have firefighters everywhere all the time. That aerial view is priceless to us,” said Brooks.

One of the features these drones have is infrared to give them an in-depth look at the scene.

“It tells us where exactly the hotspots are. Whether it’s in the structure, in the field or in a vehicle. Whatever the case is so we can give real time intel to the firefighters that are in the interior going through the structure,” said Josh Hill, Deputy Fire Marshal.

The camera on the drone is also valuable for investigating crime scenes.

“(The drones help) to get an actual 100 percent definite image of recreation of the crime scene or the structure or whatever the case is. It gives you an advantage that’s paramount,” said Hill.

The Fire Marshal wants people to know these drones are only used for their intended purposes.

“Before we fly a drone, we have permission to be there from either the home owner or land owner. We’ve got consent, or we have a search warrant signed by a judge,” said Brooks.

The Fire Marshal added, he’s proud of the department for incorporating the technology into their workflow.

“The changes that have been made and the use of these drones have really shown in these investigations… and I’m really proud of their work,” said Brooks.

The Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office aren’t just keeping this technology for themselves. They plan to share their equipment with other groups of first responders in East Texas.

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