ROMEOVILLE – Earlier this year, the Romeoville Fire Department was one of 40 police and fire departments in the country to receive a Public Safety Drone Training Grant from DARTdrones, the nation’s leading drone pilot school.
The grant consisted of $3,500 in free drone training, according to a news release from the village. Anyone who operates a drone for professional purposes is required to undergo training and have a license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Fire Chief Kent Adams is a licensed drone pilot. This is not the first drone-based grant the department has received. It bought its drone using money from a previous grant.
“We use drones for a variety of operations,” Adams said. “The list gets longer and longer every day. Pretty much any type of incident we have, we can use the drone to give us some aerial perspective of what’s going on.”
Adams detailed a few of these incidents, including using thermal imaging to find hot spots and advancing blazes, fire investigation, search and rescue and finding victims along the waterways.
“In the past we’d need to have Chicago’s helicopter come out and fly the waterway for us because we didn’t have any aerial way of looking,” Adams said. “Now we have the ability to do that with our drones.”
Adams said more fire and police departments are moving toward using drones, but it’s still sporadic now.
“I definitely would say we’re on the cutting edge in using drones,” Adams said. “We’re involved in MABAS, which is our mutual aid association, with drones, and we also work with Lewis University on drones.”
Lewis is a leader in drone technology, becoming the first to deliver acceptance letters to students via drone, when it did so in November, according to the release.
“If you’re in the community, and you see us out flying our drones, and you’ve got questions, stop by and talk to us,” Adams said. “I’ve had a lot of people come up, and I explain the whole drone, what we’re doing and the technology, and people usually like it when they see it.”