May 31, 2018

For the first time in its history, drones were a featured at the 2018 Fire Department Instructors Conference and Expo (FDIC). Representing the LAFD, FF Derrick Ward (FS80), FFPM Dave Danielson (TEMS Unit), and B/C Richard Fields (B10) were invited to provide expertise and instruction during the Hands-On-Training evolutions for “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Use in Emergency Response.” It was a resounding success!

The workshop introduced students to the emerging technology of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), while demonstrating how UAS can be used by emergency responders. Participants experienced hands-on demonstrations in the areas of Live Fire (Structural and Wildland), Hazmat, Search and Rescue, and photography/videography UAS operations.

Ward and Danielson were two of the six certified FAA Part 107 UAS pilots. B/C Fields provided information on the development of LAFD’s UAS program and answered administrative questions on how best to negotiate the politics and process of getting an FAA Certificate of Authorization. Fire chiefs representing fire departments from across the nation engaged in the information session, gaining knowledge on best practices to initiate their own programs.

FF Derrick Ward and FFPM Dave Danielson presented an introduction to Thermal Imaging configured on a drone. During two days of instruction, they taught students the efficient use of drone technology and how best to configure thermal imaging for wide area search, wild land fire hot spot recognition, and structure fire aerial situation awareness.

“It was an incredible experience and an honor to be invited to represent LAFD at FDIC,” said Danielson. “Not only did we get to show the progress of our UAS Program, we collaborated with a team of instructors that came from east and west coasts.”

According to FF Ward, “The ability of drones to conduct a wide area search in wooded terrain for low heat sources was an eye-opener! Students saw the capability of the UAS to rapidly search, scan and accurately identify low heat.”

The LAFD UAS program is possible because of the support of Chief Terrazas, his senior staff and the Fire Foundation. This was another successful opportunity to show how LAFD is leading the fire service with this very versatile and valuable technology.

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