Harrison County Fire Service adding drones - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County Fire Service adding drones

Piloting the drones both legally and safely is a process, according to Sullivan. (Photo source: WLOX News) Piloting the drones both legally and safely is a process, according to Sullivan. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Sullivans says adding drones will reduce the time it takes to reach someone in need. (Photo source: WLOX News) Sullivans says adding drones will reduce the time it takes to reach someone in need. (Photo source: WLOX News)

The Federal Aviation Administration's new drone rules and regulations are now in effect, and some residents may begin to see more of the unmanned aircraft systems flying overhead.

For the Harrison County Fire Service, new rules mean another tool in the utility belt of safety.

"The advantage of having the drone on an incident like that is we can get above it. We can go 360 around a large area," said Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan as he describing using drones to help fight a woods fire. "We can see which way the fire is traveling. We can see what's in front of the fire, what we need to get in front of and protect,"

But, piloting drones both properly and legally is a process.

"It's not a simple matter of just buying a drone, putting it in the air and flying it," said Sullivan, who is working toward becoming licensed to operate under the FAA's newest regulations for non-recreational use of drones. "Having the knowledge of what the safety rules are, what the regulations are, what your airspace rules are, what you can and can't do."

There are still restrictions when it comes to flying drones under the new regulations. According to Sullivan, the new rules will allow him to use the drones in disaster response, fire investigations, and even searches and rescues. 

"We hope that what it's doing will reduce the amount of time it takes us to get in the air, and the amount of time that it will take us to get to somebody that's needing help," said Sullivan.

And possibly - be the factor that saves lives. The FAA's website states that the new rules are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground. It also says that the new regulations won't apply to model aircraft operations.

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