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Alachua County Fire Department To Implement Drone Technology

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Alachua County Fire Rescue added a new drone to its team, expanding the horizons for fire rescues, crowd safety and flood inspection.

A donation from a local business brought this $24,000 piece of equipment to the fire department.

“If we send this drone up, within two minutes I can tell you where the fire is, how big it is, which direction it’s going and probably help guide in a unit to where they need to go,” said Scott Fielding, drone specialist.

The other four drones in Alachua County’s fleet can fly up to a mile. This new drone can go twice as far, even in the dark with its infrared vision. Apart from fire hot spots, it can even detect people lost in the woods at night.

“Normally, we’re out combing the woods, shining flashlights,” Fielding said. “We can go up in the air and see a heat signature and say, ‘There they are.'”

Deputy Fire Chief Harold Theus said the possibilities for the drone are endless, and those hesitant about drones shouldn’t worry.

“We cannot use it to do searches and inspections and things like that,” Theus said. “Our primary focus is drones of public safety.”

Theus said they hope to continue expanding the drone program.

About Dolores Hinckley

Dolores is a reporter for WUFT who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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