By Susan Raff, Rob Polansky
HARTFORD, Connectitcut (WFSB) — Saturday marks 20 years since one of the worst tragedies in U.S. history, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A Hartford-based company called Aquiline Drones is honoring first responders in a unique way.
Aquiline Drones said it recognizes that first responders have a difficult and dangerous job.
It is giving them training that could make their jobs a little safer.
Three years ago, it took three fire departments to get a blaze in Waterbury under control.
It was at a building that used to be the Ansonia Copper and Brass Factory. The fire broke out in July 2018 and for days, smoke could be seen drifting from the huge factory which was over 100,000 square feet.
“We’ve had four mill fires in the last 5 years,” said Chief Terry Ballou, Waterbury Fire Department. “And mill fires as we all know are spectacular.”
These fires are massive and challenging. If firefighters had a drone, it could help them know what kind of manpower and tools they need.
“You could watch the progression of the fire in real time and that’s a good indicator for on scene incident commanders,” Ballou said. “You could do pre-incident planning.”
The Waterbury Fire Department is getting a drone and training from Aquiline Drones.
The company said it started making high-tech aviation devices three years ago. The demand has helped it expand from one employee to 75.
Drones are expensive and town budgets are tight.
Cost can be a factor. Some drones cost thousands of dollars. Others cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Free training could make them more affordable.
Barry Alexander, who started Aquiline Drones, isn’t giving out free drones to everyone. However, he said the company is providing free training. The training is done online and can take between 3 and 6 months. Training can cost $1,300 dollars.
“It’s being given to law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders nationwide for free as a way to thank them for who they are and what they do,” Alexander said.
To operate a drone commercially, training is required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
More and more first responders said they are using drones because they can be a valuable tool.
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