Firefighters Are Using Drones To Catch Illegal Firework Displays

New privacy concerns emerged after a fire department used drones to oversee 4th of July celebrations.  The Bakersfield Fire Department, used drones to fly over residential areas to search for illegal fireworks. This year they went all out to ensure that no illegal fireworks were used, even going as far as sending out 38 enforcement teams to patrol the city.

The department’s spokesman, John Frando, defended their use by saying that they are doing everything that they can to respect everyone’s right to privacy by keeping the drone at a safe distance. The firefighter who was flying the drone, Ismael Vizcarra, stated that he is well aware of how annoying it would be to have someone flying a drone right above your backyard which is why he keeps the drone over main roads and streets.

2018 is the second year in a row that the Bakersfield Fire Department has used drones to make sure that people were using legal fireworks. Last year alone, drones helped them issue about 50 citations for the use of illegal fireworks. Illegal fireworks are any fireworks that spin, explode, fly or leave the ground in any way. The Bakersfield Fire Department wants to remind its residents that these fireworks are extremely dangerous because nobody knows where they might come down. If they come back to earth and land on rooftops, trees or vegetation then there is a very high chance that they can start fires.

This is not the only instance where drones have been used to enforce the law. Drones are particularly useful to police officers as they allow them to monitor large areas. Over 347 U.S agencies are currently using drones with police and sheriff departments accounting for more than half of their usage, with the fire department coming in a close third.

The police use drones for a number of reasons such as reconstructing traffic collisions in order for investigators to produce 3D imagery of the crash.  Locating armed shooters or persons of interest in order to coordinate how best to approach the situation while reducing harm to any officers or civilians.  Search and rescue missions where large areas can be covered in a limited amount of time. Drones equipped with thermal imaging are especially useful for finding people at night or under thick cover of tress.

There are privacy concerns about government agencies flying drones over populated areas. However if used correctly they can provide many benefits to communities by helping to monitor and reduce crime.

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