Drone helping crews fight fires

WTNH/Stephanie Simoni

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A day after the massive condo blaze along the waterfront in New Haven and firefighters are still watching for hotspots.

Inspectors have determined that much of the building will have to be torn down, but for fire investigators, they can’t get inside the building because it’s too unstable and that’s where the drone comes in.

As fire burned through more than a dozen units, from the ground, firefighters stare up into thick plumes of smoke. Even 110 feet up in an aerial ladder it’s difficult to see where the water needs to be placed. So, the West Haven Deputy Chief Robert Schwartz launched their drone. These aerial pictures allow the chief to see around the smoke and have a clear view of the roof.

Web Extra: Drone video provided by the West Haven Fire Department

“The smoke was blowing directly on top of the guys they didn’t really have a good visual on it, and the chief from New Haven used the drone video that I was showing them live to point the stream in the right direction,” said Schwartz.

If you look closely at the water streams, they’re shooting through the smoke and over the fire onto the roof, but when the chief sees the drone feed he’s able to adjust the hoses to get water directly onto the fire. The drone also gives him a real-time sense of what is happening on the roof on how to best attack the fire.

“They were also worried about whether or not the fire was going to get past the fire stop that they had trenched into the roof. So he was trying to get a visual on that to see if he can actually put guys in there safely or up on the roof safely it really helps out in the situations,” said Schwartz.

Firefighters say the drone is the wave of the future, and the next generation of drones will be equipped with thermal imaging so they can actually see into a burning building and tell if people are trapped inside.

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