Drone helps firefighters fight Pinellas County brush fire

SEMINOLE, FL (WFLA) — A smoky brush fire in Seminole was put out Monday. It broke out near Osceola High School, in a wooded area across 98th Street. Firefighters are crediting a man with a drone for helping them get crews and equipment to exactly the right spot.

In this case, the dense woods made it difficult to pinpoint where they should send the dozer, or brush truck.  The drone helped them keep the four acre fire from spreading. Eagle 8 spotted the drone, helping firefighters. The drone owner gave firefighters a look at what they were up against. He flew the drone over the fire, allowing them to plot an attack.

“Actually it helped us make our decisions on how we want to fight the fire. To be defensive in nature and we saw the topography of the land, how dense the vegetation was and it was practical or not to get units back in there,” said Brad Dykens of Seminole Fire Rescue.

Bert Seither is a drone fan and pilot. He’s excited about the drone helping at this fire, and what they could do in the future. “I think, a great benchmark that we can take as a society that drones are very helpful. Can be very helpful when used properly,” said Seither.

In this case, using the drone’s video, firefighters decided to let the fire burn itself out. “I think we’re probably gonna see fire departments across the country starting to ask for these in their budget,” said Seither.

8 On Your Side wanted to know if a drone is in the future at Seminole Fire Rescue. “We’d like to down the road, we’ll have to look into that for sure,” said Brad Dykens.

“I think we’re probably gonna see fire departments across the country starting to ask for these in their budget” said Seither.

8 On Your Side wanted to know if this drone flight was legal. We spoke to attorney Brant Hadaway from the website DroneLaw.com. He said the drone pilot at the fire likely falls under the hobbiest category. The attorney said the Fire Department must have FAA authorization. The FAA is looking at changing the rules, but for now they can’t fly a drone without approval.
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