Drone helps Coral Springs firefighters battle flames at Dollar Tree store

Drone helps authorities identify where fire started in building

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – New drone technology helped Coral Springs firefighters get control of a fire over the weekend at a Dollar Tree store.

The fire was reported about 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Dollar Tree at 11530 W. Sample Road.

The fire department now has access to drones, giving first responders an eye in the sky.

"The benefit is huge, to be able to assist in firefighting to protect our firefighters," Division Chief Mike Moser said.

Coral Springs Fire Rescue has a fleet of three drones, all of which have the capability of shooting in 4K high definition video.

The drone used on Saturday also has the ability to shoot in infrared, which gives firefighters an advantage when they're walking into an emergency situation.

Video from the day of the fire might not look like much, but a white spot seen on the roof is actually a heat signature, which let crews on the ground know exactly where the fire was burning inside without having to put a crew up on a ladder to get a view from overhead.

"We can live stream this to the incident command and he can make decisions based on what he sees in real time," drone program manager Ryan Himmel said.

Himmel said they've used the drones in about 10 scenarios, most of which were fires, but just two weeks ago, he was called out to help police find a missing child as well.

The drones currently used by the fire department include the DJI Inspire, the DJI Phantom and the DJI Mavic. The Mavic is new and will be used mostly for indoor, tight-space situations, like indoor hostage situations.

Authorities said the drones will never be used for surveillance purposes.

The fire department is one of the first departments to be using drones in Broward County and are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to DJI, which makes the drones used in Coral Springs, nearly 40 lives have been saved using drones around the world in just the past 10 months.


About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.