Tuesday night the ESD 9 Board approved the purchase of a drone from Flir Aerial Thermal Imaging Drones. This drone will be the first one in East Texas to be put into the Fire Service. The cost of a drone such as this is $12,000. However, Caney Creek Fire Department entered into agreement to be available in East Texas when the drone is needed for search and rescue. By agreeing to this, the cost was brought down to $8,400. FLIR’s Aerial Thermal Imaging kits combine the easy-to-fly Inspire 1 drone from DJI with the Zenmuse XT thermal imaging camera. These drone-mounted cameras have the resolution and optics you need to gain a better understanding of a fire scene, assess a hazardous spill, or aid in a search and rescue operation. By combining the flight stability and powerful video transmission system of a DJI drone with FLIR thermal technology, these kits provide the ultimate solution for reliable, rapid deployable aerial thermal imaging. The drone comes with a powerful Lightbridge system for video transmission, camera control, and digital recording. Vital for Day or Night FLIR’s Zenmuse XT thermal camera has the ability to see through smoke, so incident commanders can keep track of personnel at large scenes or monitor roof conditions while firefighters are inside. Because it visualizes heat, this thermal imager is also a must-have for search and rescue. According to Fire Chief Ray Flannelly, the drone could almost replace having to call a DPS or Coast Guard helicopter to the scene of a search and rescue operation. Aerial search for lost persons is extremely costly with traditional fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Small, highly maneuverable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV or Drone) may aid and support search efforts in many situations for a fraction of the cost in risk, and resources. In addition, it can be deployed almost immediately upon arriving on a scene. One drone can search an extensive area in minutes that might take an entire group of ground personnel to cover in hours. During Harvey, California’s Task Force 3 responded to Texas. They were responsible for search and rescue operations in the Wharton area. Captain Tony Eggimann quickly prepared one of the team’s three drones to scout out several miles of area from the air as the boat crews prepared six boats. He determined clear routes of travel, as well as the exact locations of farms and buildings, so that they could expedite the search and not waste any time. One drone can search an extensive area in minutes that might take an entire group of ground personnel to cover in hours. The ones responsible to fly the drone will be Battalion Chief’s and Lieutenants. They will be sent to school to learn to fly and also be licensed by the FAA. Recently drones have picked up in all aspects of search and rescue. A drone is able to deliver a lifeline to a person, spot lost or missing persons. even delivering a life vest to a person in need. In August of 2016 new FAA rules went into effect that allow drones to be used for search and rescue without permission. But still limitations exist. A drone can’t at night without special permission unless a waiver is issued by the FAA.