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KINGS COUNTY — The Kings County Fire Department was awarded a grant to purchase thermal drones, which officials said will benefit not only firefighters but the entire community.

In April, the department applied for the California Fire Foundation Wildfire Prevention Grant to support the purchase of specialized firefighting equipment.

The department determined thermal drones were a priority to supplement its operations, so the grant application was designed around this need.

The application was approved by the California Fire Foundation in May.

In a press release, Fire Chief Clay Smith said the department always seeks to gain an advantage over the hazardous conditions posed to its firefighters in daily operational tasks.

He said they determined that one advantage that can be gained is through the use of thermal drones, which would largely benefit the department by assisting in search and rescue operations, responding to structural and commercial fires or wildland incidents, technical rescues, thermal imaging of hot spots, responding to natural disasters, or to accomplish various everyday duties and calls for service.

Thermal drones, specifically those with drone tethers and infrared cameras like the ones proposed in the grant application, can be extremely beneficial to firefighters, he said.

Officials said the aerial thermal imaging perspective allows the incident command to see through smoke and hot spots, and to direct and monitor personnel during entry and operations.

Fire departments across the nation are seeking thermal drones to ensure the safety of firefighters and the community.

Other benefits from the use of thermal drones during structure fires and search and rescue missions include allowing firefighters to quickly and effectively scout out areas, observe and monitor fires and the surrounding areas all while ensuring the safety of firefighters and the community.

“The goal of the department is to serve our communities with the best in fire protection and offer a professional and dedicated response when citizens of Kings County call upon us for help,” Smith said in the release.

The department wanted to thank and extend its appreciation to the California Fire Foundation — a non-profit organization that provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect — for its community involvement and the opportunity for this grant.

Along with the foundation, which has been instrumental in supplying public safety resources and conducting outreach and education about fire safety issues, the department also wanted to extend its gratitude to Edison International for its contributions in support of the 2019 Wildfire Prevention grant.

“The Department looks forward to maintaining our reputation and providing continued service to the citizens of County of Kings by utilizing the specialized firefighting equipment,” concluded the press release.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

News Reporter

News reporter for The Sentinel

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