The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved the use of drones to help fight wildfires.
The county’s Central Fire District will receive 14 drone systems to increase visibility for fire detection and suppression efforts, following the board’s action late last month, according to county Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
The hope is for the drones to quickly identify source areas of fires, weak spots in burning buildings and safety hazards via thermal imaging.
“Drones can help keep our firefighters and other public safety officers safe while fighting fires because drone operators can monitor specific areas to make sure they are safe for firefighters and other public safety officers to enter,” said Chavez, who co-authored the measure with Otto Lee.
County officials estimate one-time set up costs for the program between $106,000 and $206,000, with total annual costs between $13,700 and $70,000.
The board approved an initial referral three weeks ago that was formally passed at its Sept. 27 meeting.