LAFD adds drones to firefighting toolbox

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The Los Angeles Fire Department is now using drones as another tool to fight fires. (KABC)

The Los Angeles Fire Department is now using drones as another tool to fight fires.

The high-definition video they capture is sent to a battalion chief's vehicle in real time. The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation has raised money to buy a handful of drones so far as a pilot project.

A drone, equipped with an infrared camera, checked for hot spots during the Skirball Fire and measured the temperature. The unmanned aerial system is cheaper to fly than a helicopter and can quickly give the incident commander a first-hand look at what's happening, instead of getting the information over the radio.

"I can get a helicopter in the air, but I can't get what they see immediately either. So this fills that gap in providing me a picture, which is obviously worth a thousand words at all times of what I'm dealing with" said Battalion Chief Richard Fields.

Firefighter Dave Danielson, who pilots the drones, says they could also be used to look for a victim during a swift water rescue and search and rescue operations in the Santa Monica mountains.

"Most people are out there with their cell phones and we can get a lat-long off that, the drone can vector in on where that cell phone is located. That gives us an immediate awareness and help direct resources out there," said Danielson.

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