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Victoria combats bushfire with cutting edge drone technology

Drones featuring high-definition thermal imaging and live-streaming cameras have been added to Victoria’s bushfire defence arsenal.

The state launched a new Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) aviation unit and announced today it has acquired four new drones to gather aerial images of fires and other emergencies, strengthening response efforts on the ground. Four specialist firefighters, including Civil Aviation Safety Authority-qualified drone pilots, staff the new unit.

The new drones capture better quality footage from the air to support emergency services.

“This technology provides us with much greater situational awareness during a range of emergency incidents,” Fire Rescue Victoria Commissioner Ken Block said. The technology dramatically improves timely decision-making and community and firefighter safety, he said.

The FRV already supported the assessment of fire-affected areas following the bushfires that ravaged large parts of the state last summer using drones. The new drone models can stay in the air for up to 30 minutes and withstand difficult wind conditions, a significant uplift in capability for the FRV. They can also carry both thermal and optical cameras at the same time.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville says firefighters will be able to better monitor incidents from the air and get a fuller picture of complex fires.

“Our emergency services will have greater access to critical information and intelligence to efficiently contain fires, respond to emergencies and save lives,” she said.