I have been involved in wildland fire fighting for 14 years, 10 years in operations and the last 4 in administrative roles. By no means is 10 years any length of time considering the fine folks that have and are still dedicating their time. The US has just taken a step forward using UAV’s in fire research as well as helping keep fire fighters out of harm’s way, but then a abrupt step backwards. If you look at natural disasters in the US, we do not place individuals in the way of hurricanes, tornadoes, nor floods, but we do put them in front of wildfires. We may take mitigating effects to limit the damage of other natural disasters but none like wildland fire. Year in and year out we have lost on average about 14 people a year across all federal agencies (this doesn’t include local government agencies), and this has been a common “acceptable loss.” The new natural disaster of the 21st century is fire. We have seen it from US, Israel, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, and even Sweden, to name a few! This is not going to be something that is going to just up an vanish without a change in policy and public perception about the benefits of fire on the landscape. This is not common knowledge just known by Aboriginal or Native tribes, but it is a practice that most Aboriginal and native individuals knew benefited the landscape.
I mentioned earlier about the US Federal Agency taking a step forward, then an abrupt step backward. I will elaborate on that a bit more here. Until recently about 2 months ago the Department of Interior had been allowed to use “DJI Enterprise” products because supposedly these weren’t transmitting data back to China. That abruptly ended in December when the DOI (Depratment of Interior) which controls the BLM ( Bureau of Land Management) stopped all use of DJI drones due to national security “issues”, this later bled over to their other drones in the fleet, most of which are 3DR Solo’s and firefly 6’s, and a few parrot anafi’s. I have not seen the recent MOU regarding UAS use in the federal government. There is also a bill in congress that will bar any DJI UAV’s from any federal use and federal contracting.Why do I even mention this, well the fact that I can easily get a new m600 or m100 enterprise drone shipped to the nearest shipping port or I can also get parts readily available off the shelf when we needed them was a great benefit to the boutique UAV’s that many offer. And we have crashed quite a few, barometers seem to not really like flames licking the bottom of the UAV. If someone can show me a workhorse ardcopter qaud that can carry a 20 MP and/or a decent thermal radiometric camera and fly for 40 minutes and also stand up to a great deal of movement across the US from one week to another, operate in temps from -10c to 45c and have readily available parts that don’t cost a lot and are consistently available and not be in a constant beta test, I’d love to buy it!
Great banning DJI opens the door for the ardu-community to fill that gap at least in the US. WHOA not so fast have you read the new proposed rule about “remote ID?” If you haven’t please read it here if you are located in the US or ever think you’d like to operate in the US. it’s a lot to read and very ambiguous in its writing, seem’s common for laws!
If you like it or dislike it please let them know what you like or dislike in the law. A quick read across the comments will give you a great boiler plate template for a copy and paste to let the FAA know how you feel, formal comment is open until March 2, 2020 2359EST (1159PM EST)
My last rant I guess you can call it that now. What typesof UAV technology have you folks seen or know that has been deployed on some of the bushfires. Is the majority of it recon/intelligence, or have you heard of folks using it for SA (situational awareness) eyes in the sky type of thing?
Please let me know what UAV/UGV’s you have heard or you have used on the fireline that has benefited the overall strategy or SA.