NFPA receives nearly $1M grant to develop fire service drone compliance program

The project aims to generate the guidance, learnings and best practices needed to establish a compliant, successful drone program in the fire service


By FireRescue1 Staff 

QUINCY, Mass. — The NFPA has received nearly $1 million in Fire Prevention and Safety (FS&P) grant funding from FEMA to develop a free public safety drone compliance program that includes educational training and a searchable knowledgebase that tracks fire service drone programs and usage. 

Drone use by fire departments has increased significantly over the past several years, as crews regularly turn to unmanned aerials to assist in response to structural fires, wildland firefighting, search and rescue efforts, and other situations that would benefit from situational awareness data.  

Despite the expanded use, many departments are unaware of the regulations governing drones, how to accurately use them gather information and other safety procedures, all of which could expose fire departments to liability.  

“As we have seen with NFPA alternative fuel vehicle and energy storage system training, the fire service is eager to learn about emerging technologies that may present new hazards, or in this case, help to mitigate and monitor safety challenges,” said NFPA Vice President and Chief Engineer Christian Dubay. “The new educational resources and portal will help fire departments across the country confidently establish and maintain public safety drone programs.” 

The NFPA drone research project is set to begin in late 2019 and will: 

  • Assess the current level of understanding, policies and standards on drone usage in public safety; 

  • Develop a drone program framework, including resources, education and an accessible portal that will allow departments to comply with regulations and standards; 

  • Track fire service drone programs; and 

  • Disseminate information and training to assist departments in creating compliant drone programs. 

The project is expected to conclude in September 2021. 

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