The Canterbury Fire Service in Christchurch has bought two $25,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, with training planned at various city sites.
Effectively miniature helicopters, the Darley Stingers are designed to give fire command units ”a view from above” at fire, search and rescue scenes.
With an inbuilt global positioning system (GPS) and either a high-definition camera or thermal imager attached, they can help direct crews, find hot spots and search for survivors in anything from rubble to cliffs.
Firefighters testing them at the old AMI Stadium today said they were also relatively simply to fly.
”We’ve had a few broken propeller blades and some broken landing gear, but nothing too major,” senior firefighter Mike Yeates said.
”We’ll probably get a few reports of UFOs around the city as we try them out in different places,” he joked.
”Once you get over the fear of crashing it, it’s all good. It’s a great observation tool,” senior firefighter Wayne Hamilton said.