The Los Angeles Fire Department inspectors will begin using drones to determine brush clearance compliance checks on residential areas amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the department announced Friday.
Last year, the Fire Department began using drones to do brush inspections at government-owned properties in the city, but was recently approved by the Board of Fire Commissioners to use them in residential areas in high fire severity zones.
The department first began using drones to aid in firefighting work in December 2017, over the Skirball Fire on the westside of the city.
Now “unmanned aerial systems” will also be used by inspectors who work each year to make sure brush is cleared in fire-prone areas — to create defensible space and help crews fight brush blazes.
“Using this technology helps us keep our inspectors safe as they adhere to social distancing, while increasing efficiencies of our inspections and meeting our mission,” Kristin Crowley, deputy chief fire marshal for LAFD said in a video released by the department Friday.
She indicated that the drones are being used to augment brush inspections, not replace them.
The drones make it possible for inspectors to be able to view hard-to-reach areas in the city.
A pilot will go to a residential area and fly the drone on a predetermined flight path, while taking precautions to avoid privacy violations, officials explained in the video. After a flight, an inspector can review footage and determine whether a certain area has been adequately cleared of brush.
If images show that a property has not been cleared, an on-site inspection will be done to determine if brush hazard violations exist, officials explained.
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