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Wildfires

keeping

drones away from wildfires

Over the last five years, California has seen wildfires decimate an average of 692,000 acres a year. This is about 100,000 acres more per year than the 15-year average. These fires are causing more damage than ever before. Simultaneously, drone popularity has been increasing. Hobbyists are frequently flying their drones over wildfires to capture imagery of these raging fires. Unfortunately, commonly-used firefighting aircraft are flown at around the same height as drones. Drones flying at wildfires has repeatedly impeded and halted wildland firefighting operations. Aircraft are forced to make emergency landings once a drone is spotted because, according to Aviation Officer Samuel Ramsay, for an “aircraft traveling at 200 miles an hour to hit a two-pound drone it’s like taking a bullet and shooting it through a cockpit or a stone and throwing it into the engine.” As these fires continue to grow in intensity, this imminent threat that drones pose to firefighter safety and our communities needs to be addressed.

During an operation that was central to the containment of the Lake Fire, an intruder drone forced firefighting aircraft to make an emergency landing. Because aircraft weren’t able to complete their fire retardant line, the fire’s 27% containment reduced to 19% overnight. With property, structures, and lives at stake, it is of the utmost importance to use all of our resources to curb the spread of fires. With drones intruding on these operations however, fighting the fire is  impossible.
Drones have the capabilities of causing serious or fatal accidents. A single drone can easily cause immense damage to the rotors of a helicopter or the engines of airplanes. Ken Pimlott, the director of the California State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, believes “the most immediate and critical issue we face is the serious threat that these drones pose.” Although planes and helicopters are forced to land immediately when a drone is spotted, their small size and poor visibility conditions make relying on visible sight an ineffective way to spot drones. It only takes one unseen drone to take down an aircraft. The DroneFox can detect any drone within a multi-mile radius so firefighters no longer have to be looking up in fear of a drone intruding on already dangerous operations.

Not only does the DroneFox have unmatched detection, but it allows wildland firefighters to take control of potentially life-threatening situations. Our interception capabilities give pilots security to ensure no drone will endanger their lives. Firefighters are given the ability to instantly secure the situation. The DroneFox allows aircraft to fly without constant concern for drones and perform their crucial role in fighting fires.

We have a responsibility to serve and protect those who serve and protect us. For us at WhiteFox that means preventing drones from endangering the lives of our firefighters and their operations.

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Relevant News:

   •   Some Trailhead Fire Evacuations Lifted as Drone Operators Warned to Keep Distance
   •   FAA Probes Drone Near-Miss with Reno Firefighting Copter
   •   Drone Halts Airborne Firefighting Operations at Saddle Fire Once Again
   •   $75,000 in Rewards Offered to Catch Operators Who Flew Drones Above Fires

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