OREM (News4Utah) – The Orem Fire Department is now home to the most advanced public safety drone in the state of Utah, according to Battalion Chief Ryan Peterson.
“Our last drone was a basic model. We couldn’t fly it at night. It wasn’t set up for search and rescue missions or hazardous materials,” said Chief Peterson.
He said thanks to a generous donation by ProFire, an oilfield technology company in Lindon, they were able to purchase a new drone and camera system with a price tag of $30,000.
“We went to the fire department and asked what they would like to have that just wasn’t available to them because of budget. The new drone is what they came up with,” said Brenton Hatch, CEO of ProFire.
“That’s really exciting to think that we are a leader in this and we’re setting a pattern of precedence for other departments to follow. Hopefully, lives all over will be saved and touched through this,” said Hatch.
Chief Peterson said the new drone is designed for the inclement weather in Utah such as light rain showers and cold weather.
“The technology on this drone has a large zoom and visible camera, which allows us to identify persons from several miles away,” said Chief Peterson. “We also have the latest forward-looking technology, which allows us to identify heat signatures in buildings.”
The drone can also help first responders find missing people in search and rescue missions as well as identify chemicals during hazardous materials responses.
Orem Fire officials said they plan on using their new drone to assist other agencies as well.
“If law enforcement has a suspect that is fleeing, the flare technology will allow us to identify that person at night. The camera will automatically track that subject that we keep them within sight,” said Chief Peterson. “We can then read the GPS coordinates to law enforcement of that person’s location.”
For now, Chief Peterson is the only pilot at Orem Fire Department who can operate the drone. But he said more staff members will be trained and licensed in the next couple of months.