As the Propeller Spins

Spokane City council approves drones for fire department

Posted by KREM.com on 5/11/2016
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane City Council unanimously approved on Monday night, the use of drones for the Spokane Fire Department.

The drones will be used during hazardous materials situations like a gas leak. Spokane will be the only city in the Pacific Northwest to use drones for hazmat situations. Officials insist drones will help improve public safety.

"We can impact people's lives forever, and their families," said Brian Schaeffer of the Spokane Fire Department.

Three drones will be used within a year. The three will cost a total of $28,000 and all of the money will be provided by Department of Homeland Security grant.

An example officials gave of when a drone could be useful was during the hazardous leak at Pacific Steel and Recycling in the summer of 2015. In that case, firefighters spent valuable time getting suited up to go in. With a drone however, authorities said the investigation could have started in a matter of minutes.

"The cloud was moving," Schaeffer said, "We didn't have good access into it."

At Monday's meeting, several people voiced concerns despite the possible safety benefits.

"The police will need them and before you know it, they'll be drones across our backyards," one person said.

"Are we going to be able to use the drones to look at vehicles speeding?" another asked.

City council members said no. They insisted any drone use would only be done by the fire department and only for hazmat calls.

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