Here's how drones are making fire investigators jobs easier

Published: Jul. 19, 2016 at 6:47 PM CDT
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Fire Marshals were able to obtain a high definition view of the burned out Fairlawn Green Apartments, a perspective they haven’t gotten in the past.

"We were able to quickly determine where that fire originated at and once we got on the scene we got an exact origin of where it was at,” said Chief of Investigations at the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Wally Roberts.

It was all captured with a commercial drone. The footage, coupled with interviews at the scene, allowed investigators to determine that there was no foul play involved, all in less than 24 hours

"They are toys people do buy these for their own enjoyment to fly them around and do things like that, but the technology has evolved so well, it's just another tool in our toolbox that we use with our cases,” said Roberts.

A tool which they say can help them with a wide range of emergency investigations.

"Say we use it in a hazardous material incident, it might be safer to send that down to take a look at what's going on, say a trail derailment or major accident, where we would not send a person,” said Roberts.

With the federal government pushing to lower the restrictions on commercial drones, the fire marshal’s office plans to take full advantage of their potential. They've already deployed their drone a half dozen times to assist their efforts

"We have a great administration staff who supports us and listens to our ideas and knows that different tools can be used to do what we do,” said Roberts.

Here in Kansas, the drone industry has been a hit, with K-State’s Salina campus gearing to be one of the largest enclosed flight facilities for drones in the nation. In fact last year, the Kansas Drone Summit estimated that the state can potentially gain 3 billion dollars from the drone industry.