Sedgwick County Fire Department to look into remote-controlled aircraft

By Sharda Gray
KSN – April 29, 2015


We’re still looking for answers as to what caused a house explosion near Derby Monday night. World War II veteran Roland “Andy” Dayton died in the blast. The Sedgwick County Fire Department is a long way from knowing the exact cause, but they did use new technology that could possibly help speed up the process.

It could take weeks or longer to know if the images they took with this new technology will help the investigation, but what we do know is that it was a spur of the moment decision. The fire marshal tells us the pictures tell a lot.

It may look like a toy, but remote-controlled devices, like recreational helicopters or drones, could help with the investigation of an elderly man’s death.

“One of our fire fighters had access to one of these recreational helicopters,” said Sedgwick County Fire Marshal Daniel Wegner. “Had a camera mounted to it and we used it to do some aerial photographs of the scene.”

Wegner says those pictures are part of the investigation, so they can’t release them yet, but he says the technology to get above the scene is giving a new view to help figure out what happened.

“It gives an elevated picture of how far the debris piles went in extent of the damage from the blast,” Wegner said. “It’s really hard to piece several photographs together, but from that view point, we have an aerial view.”

The device the fire department used had a camera mounted on it. Brookstone Store sells similar technology and drones with the cameras already attached. They say they’ve seen an increase in sales.

“It used to be the regular helicopters that we would sell, but here in recently within the past year, the quad-copter, which are the four propeller helicopters have been a lot more popular and that’s what we see selling a lot more,” said Brookstone Store manager Reid Dreitz.

The fire marshal says this was the first time they used this kind of technology and they don’t plan to buy one right now, but says it would be cheaper than using real helicopters and planes for aerial photos.

“You’ve got fuel cost, personal cost. So it’s not a cheap thing to put an airplane in the air come over and take photographs,” said Wegner. “When I can get them, I’ve used them, but when I don’t use them for every incident.”

The fire marshal says he hasn’t looked into the rules and regulations of using these kind of devices for the future, but says they would look into it if they consider purchasing a remote-controlled aircraft for the department.

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