Fla. Fire Department Adds Underwater Drones

Photo courtesy of OpenROV

The newest additions to the Orange County (Fla.) Fire Rescue’s fleet are two Trident underwater drones. The battery-powered units, manufactured by OpenROV, are tethered to a 300-foot line and can be used in freshwater and saltwater, reported Click Orlando. Each Trident unit costs about $1,200.

Orange County Fire Rescue first piloted the underwater drones last year. At the time, Battalion Chief Jason Perrigo told Click Orlando that the water rescue team ran a hypothetical call in which a driver lost control of his vehicle and went underwater, and the drone helped with visibility, especially during night tests when it would have been pitch black.

According to county documents, the Board of County Commissioners approved the formation of an unmanned aerial systems program in July 2017, with the first drones deployed that fall during Hurricane Irma. Since then, Click Orlando noted, this program has grown from one drone to 16.

When the agency applied for authorization to use drones from the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2017, Fire Rescue Chief Otto Drozd III told the Orlando Sentinel he proposed a drone program after studying the effectiveness of drones on a task force for the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

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