BERLIN - Fire officials in town are harnessing new technology in an effort to improve their service to the community.
Kensington Fire Department staff secured grant funding to purchase a public safety drone to aid in search and rescue missions and other emergency response. The device purchased was a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise with modifications, Chief Jeff Pajor told the Town Council this week.
“We had looked around the last couple years for a donation to purchase a drone designed for our operations,” Pajor said. “We were able to get it done through a grant.”
Firefighters’ first use of the drone was in late August, when an elderly man went missing off Fairview Drive and was later located.
“We deployed it that day and did quite a bit of searching,” the chief said.
The drone has both standard and thermal imaging capabilities. It features a bright light and speaker so it can easily be spotted in the air and provide notification to a wider area. It has been assigned to Kensington Fire Rescue but will be available to all the town’s public safety departments. An operational use policy is being crafted and staff are being trained and certified.
Fire officials are also purchasing a generator to provide electrical back-up at the town’s main emergency communications sites at the top of Ellwood Road. This tool represents “the clinch-pin” on the department’s recently-completed, state-of-the-art system, the chief told elected officials.
“This is the culmination of almost a year and a half’s work on communications by the Fire Department,” he said. “You have a tremendous product. I’m extremely proud of it; our members are extremely proud of it. It works very well and we have a lot of new technology we’ve never had before.”
The council granted the department its approval to make the $28,000 purchase.
“There’s no more critical time that we need our repeater and transmitters up than when we’re out of power in an emergency,” Mayor Mark Kaczynski said. “This is a no brainer to me.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.