The Sonoma Valley Fire District (SVFD) sUAS (small unmanned aircraft system) “Sonoma Valley Fire District Unmanned Aircraft Fire Prevention & Safety Unit” will enhance the operational capabilities of the Fire District while adding efficiency and safety to fire department operations.
Program costs for equipment and training were fully funded by grant dollars designed to address tragic evens such as wildfires, floods, and climate caused disasters.
The process of implementing this program was multi-faceted and required a significant amount of training for the organization. In addition to our rigorous training program, all remote pilots are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
sUASallows us to operate in hazardous conditions and provide our IC’s (Incident Commanders) with better situational awareness so they can more effectively deploy resources and keep people safe. The old saying holds true “a picture is worth a 1,000 words” real-time pictures from drones have proven to make all the difference in the world. This technology will allow us to deploy resources faster, provide for a rapid overview of the incident scene, identify risks early, react to incident changes faster, provide reconnaissance in hazardous materials environments, and fully document the incident.
In addition to emergency incident response, sUAS will afford us the ability to survey remote unpopulated areas within our service areas that pose a significant wildfire risk. Armed with this information, crews will have a better understanding of potential fire behavior in these areas before a fire incident strikes. Unmanned aircraft also allows for documenting fires after the event to aid in cause and origin fire investigation and analysis.
This technology benefits both the employees and our customers who live and work in the Sonoma Valley Fire District by providing an increase in efficiency and safety to our emergency operations.
The SVFD is aware of the concerns that revolve around the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) regarding both safety and privacy and is addressing these concerns by implementing strict operational guidelines and managerial oversight. If members of the public have specific concerns we ask that they contact the Sonoma Valley Fire District Fire Marshal for additional information.