Blue light emergency drone brought into service

Lancashire's Blue Light Drone launch. (s)

Lancashire's Blue Light Drone launch. (s)

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A drone is set to be used to assist police and firefighters in Lancashire thanks to a new collaboration between the two services.

Training is underway for the pilots who will operate the unit, which will be used to help in a wide range of situations, including large road traffic collisions, wide area flooding, large moorland fires, and searching for missing persons.

Based at the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) training centre in Chorley, the drone is owned by LFRS and piloted by the existing team of incident investigation officers.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw contributed £10,000, using money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, towards the cost of purchasing the device and training staff.

The ongoing costs will be funded by the Lancashire Combined Fire Authority and each organisation will pay for its own running costs.

The drone will be used to provide real-time footage, particularly in hard to reach places, to give officers a bird’s eye view of incidents. It is able to fly in high winds and poor weather and can stream high definition or thermal imaging to help with the command of situations as they develop, as well as improving the quality of the evidence gathering.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Kenny said: “The unit will be busy as the range of incidents both organisations attend is very wide, but it will be incredibly useful during major incidents. Take the recent floods, for example. It was impossible for us to understand the scale of the event or the threat to life from the water’s edge. With an aerial view from a thermal imaging camera, we would be able to quickly identify people who need help and prioritise rescue efforts.”

Mr Grunshaw said: “The new drone will provide police and the fire service with a valuable resource to help keep Lancashire safe. This money, taken away from criminals who have profited from their illegal activities, will help support the work of our frontline police officers and help them as they work to tackle crime and protect vulnerable people.”