MENLO PARK (KCBS) – As drones prove to be a valuable firefighting tool, the Menlo Park Fire Protection District is looking to help other fire departments adopt the technology.

The department now has eight drones and eight drone operators.

“They all have thermal capability; we use them as a search tool. We say it provides situational awareness,” Captain and unmanned aerial system program coordinator Chris Dennebaum told KCBS.

“We have used them several times to search the bay for missing kayakers,” Dennebaum went on to say.

During fires, good decisions can be made with up to date information before a helicopter is on scene.

We can clip pieces out of a video as we’re making it or take pictures and send them to other tablets or other devices as well, so they’ll have the information,” Dennebaum said.

The Fremont Fire Department also uses drones but other departments have been slow to adopt the technology, held back by politicians concerned about privacy concerns.

“We have this great collaborative community kind of building and that’s why we set up our June 2nd symposium at SLAC,” Dennebaum said.

The symposium at the Stanford Linerar Accelerator next month is intended to assist fire agencies in successfully and responsibly supporting their own drone programs.


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