Columbia Fire Department Launches Drone program To Assist In Emergencies

Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 21:23:10-05

A new drone program has been created at the Columbia Fire Department in hopes that it will help firefighters during emergencies, when it matters most.

Jose Periut Jr. has been with the Columbia Fire Department since 2009. Ask any of his colleagues and they'll tell you, he's known as the tech guy. 

“I really think it’s a great tool. It's not a replacement for any team but it is a great tool for us to have,” said Periut. 

Periut has been a certified remote pilot for a few years, and when the fire chief said he was adding a drone to the fleet, he selected Peruit to head the program.

“It can help with the ground crews and teams with hazmat situations, search and rescue, flooding, natural disasters,” Peruit explained. 

When seconds and minutes matter most having an aerial view can make all the difference.

“We coordinated with instant command and ground crews and they were able to move the aerial master stream to a different location to be able to put that fire out,” said Peruit. 

The department already plans on adding another drone, this time with a few upgrades.

“Fleer thermal imaging which allows us to see through smoke,” Peruit said. 

During a fire or emergency it will help to have eyes in the skies to guide responders. While the program only just started, officials see it taking off for good. 

“It gives a perspective we didn't have before and allows us to do our job better,” Peruit said.