Drone Task Force

The Waupaca Area Fire District's Drone Task Force 

Another value piece of equipment that is available to the Waupaca Area Fire District, is the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) or Drone.

WAFD upgraded their first aircraft from the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprices Dual ( inservice in 2019), the the new DJI Matrice 30T.  The new drone was purchased with a grant from TC Energy and fundraising donations. 

Uses for the WAFD Drone

The WAFD UAS (Drone) has many uses in the fire service.   For example, drones can provide a comprehensive picture of the initial incident. This information helps commanders determine the size of the incident, its severity, what initial resources are needed, and the overall response objectives.  The drone is a valuable tool for search and rescue.  With the thermal imaging camera, lost individual can be seen better, especially in the dark.  

Drones allow firefighters to relay high-definition video intelligence of the fireground back to central command in real time. This facilitates improved coordination with other disaster response agencies and first responders on scene. The footage and data gathered during emergency response incidents can also be used as evidence, for after-action analysis, and incorporated into future training materials.

By deploying drones in emergency situations — which are often dangerous and potentially life-threatening — fire departments are able to maintain and prioritize firefighter safety.

Damage Assessment after a storm

Situational awareness on the fire scene

Building Assessment for pre-planning.

Lost/Missing people

Our Pilots and Flight Crews:

All of the WAFD pilots and crews have undergone extensive training of the years.  Our pilot are all required to obtain the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Part 107 Remote Pilots license. This certificate demonstrates that our pilots understand the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones.  Drone pilots operating under Part 107 may fly at night, over people and moving vehicles without a waiver as long as they meet the requirements defined in the rule. 

Our flight crew/visual observers have also went through internal department training.  A Visual Observer (VO) is an flight crew member for a flight mission who serves as a second set of eyes, monitoring the drone in flight in order to support the Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC).  Other members of the flight crew assist the RPIC in setting up/securing the landing zone, handling all communications with Incident Command, and other duties during any flight mission.  The Flight Crew also assists with pre and post flight duties, and also can serve as visual observers.

About the DJI MAtrice 30T

The new  DJI Matrice 30T Combo is a weatherproof drone that fits in a backpack. It integrates multiple high-performance sensors into one single camera payload, is controlled with the DJI RC Plus Remote and runs on upgraded software, which significantly improves the flight experience. The powerful M30T offers the endurance and capability necessary for rugged professional use-cases. Additionally, its size makes it ideal for easy transportation and fast setup. The UAS also includes a 40mm 640x512 30fps thermal imaging camera with measurement accuracy of ±2°C or ±2%..

The M30 model has more power, endurance, and capability for demanding professional tasks, but its small size makes it easy to transport and set up quickly. 

The M30T model integrates a 48-megapixel 1/2'' CMOS sensor-zoom camera with 5×~16× optical and 200× digital zoom, a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, 8K photo, 4K/30 fps video resolution, and a laser rangefinder which can give the precise coordinates of objects up to 3900 feet away.

Thermal Imaging:

The new Matrice 30T (Thermal) has the latest in infrared technology.  Between thick clouds of smoke billowing from the fireground and physical obstructions like buildings and tall trees in the environment, visibility is always a challenge for firefighters on the ground. Drones outfitted with high-definition infrared (IR) cameras give firefighters thermal imaging capabilities to see what the naked eye could not. This enables them to monitor hotspots, identify deployed personnel, and locate people trapped inside structures despite the lack of visibility.  

Ready to Fly/Deploy

The Matrice M30T can quickly be deployed.  It comes with a DJI RC Plus controller, four  TB30 Intelligent Flight Batteries, one BS30 Intelligent Battery Station, and the aircraft storage case.  The aircraft folds up and is stored inside the case.  The aircraft can be ready to fly in minutes.