Wake Forest Fire Department Brings Lifesaving Drones to the Triangle

The Wake Forest Fire Department has recently embraced the use of an advanced Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), also sometimes called a drone, to better assist people in emergency situations.

Using drones in the fire service is a benefit to all residents. By utilizing this new aerial technology the Wake Forest Fire Department is in a unique position to assist with locating missing persons, gather critical information about structure fires to protect citizens and firefighters, gather important firefighting information when dealing with wildland fires, and provide rapid safety assessments following natural disasters to aid residents.

“Our new technology was donated by supporters of the Wake Forest Fire Department,” stated Fire Chief Ron Early. “We were fortunate to be able to serve such supportive people in our community.”

Chief Early feels the integration of the firefighting drone into the fire service is a tremendous benefit to the residents the department serves.

“By utilizing the Wake Forest Fire Department drone we are able to rapidly search for people lost or in trouble. Our area of responsibility includes both large lakes, dense woodland, and urban settings,” Chief Early stated. “The drone allows us to extend our advanced firefighting and search and rescue capabilities into that diverse environment with ease. What would take us a much longer time to accomplish can now take minutes,” said Early.

The Wake Forest Fire Department pilot is an experienced aircraft pilot who is also an expert drone pilot and staff instructor at the NC Public Safety Drone Academy.

“I’m proud to serve with the Wake Forest Fire Department in the implementation of this new technology to serve residents of Wake Forest and surrounding areas, ” said Chief Pilot Steve Rhode. Rhode is a volunteer firefighter with the department and also a dedicated dog rescue pilot who in his spare time flies abandoned dogs facing death from shelters to rescues for adoption.

“We’ve already had the opportunity to work with another county department to locate a suicidal individual,” Rhode said. “We also look forward to assisting others with the Wake Forest Fire Department drone technology to serve all in trouble or in need.

The Wake Forest Fire Department drone is not used for law enforcement activities. Its role is to serve in a unique capacity to save lives, which is the department’s prime goal.

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