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New drone will help the county's firefighters to tackle flames and floods

Drone pilot, Tom Diaper, crew manager, with the Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Drone pilot, Tom Diaper, crew manager, with the Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Firefighters can now call on a drone to help them tackle fires, floods and searches in Norfolk.

The Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The drone, along with a new mobile command centre, which have cost about £250,000, will be used by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service to deal with a wide range of work.

As well as filming footage from the air, the drones have thermal imaging, which can be used to check for fire hotspots and help make sure firefighters are focused on the right spots to douse flames.

The drone is available from today and will be based at Wymondham Fire Station. A team of seven pilots have had months of training.

It is part of a joint project with Norfolk police, which already has a drone. Fire and police drone pilots have been training together.

They also fly under a shared registration with the Civil Aviation Authority and they will be able to share drones when needed.

Norfolk’s chief fire officer David Ashworth said: “This is an exciting piece of technology and will assist our incident commanders in understanding exactly what fire support is needed and the sheer area that an incident covers.”

Greg Preston, head of service support at the fire service, said: “One of the real advantages is it will allow us to make better use of resources.

“If it means we will be able to use it to decide that we need one fewer appliance at an incident, that means that appliance can be protecting the community elsewhere.”

Drone pilots, Tom Diaper, crew manager, and Jo Lockwood, fire fighter, working with the Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDrone pilots, Tom Diaper, crew manager, and Jo Lockwood, fire fighter, working with the Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The drone will be available for use across the whole country and will also be able to be used to help the police when they are searching for missing people.

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee, said: “Command and control of larger, more complex, incidents will be enhanced by this equipment which will keep both emergency services and the public safe.

“The images and information captured by the drone will allow our command team to make risk-critical decisions.

“Knowing that we can support and call upon our partners in the police when we require more than one drone is a real bonus highlighting our multi-agency approach to keeping people safe.”

Drone pilots, Tom Diaper, crew manager, and Jo Lockwood, fire fighter, working with the Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDrone pilots, Tom Diaper, crew manager, and Jo Lockwood, fire fighter, working with the Norfolk Fire Service's new drone at Wymondham Fire Station. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The new central control unit replaces an older model and acts as a mobile command centre for incident commanders.

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