GAINESVILLE – The pitch in his voice changed just enough for some to look up. Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough was addressing the Gainesville City Council at their work session Thursday morning, presenting a resolution to the council allowing his department to accept a donation of $6565.19 from the North Georgia Community Foundation.
“We’re going to use this to start up our drone program,” Yarbrough said with a broad grin, “and help us out with our search-and-rescue, fire scene arson investigation, training and that kind of stuff.”
“In our search-and-rescue program it takes so many bodies and so many eyes when we do a search,” Yarbrough explained after the work session. “It’ll give us an aerial view where we can actually pick up on somebody that’s missing.”
“We’ll have thermal-imaging cameras,” Yarbrough said regarding the ability to locate missing people.
“It also gives us the capability to train and look with a bird’s eye view of…how we’re doing, how we lay out our hoses.”
As to the donation Yarbrough said, “This will pretty much purchase the drone and actually pay for the training to get licensed to operate a drone.”
“You have to be licensed through the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to do drone operations.”
Chief Yarbrough said the drone will help arson investigators when the cause of a fire is not readily discernable. “Part of the fire investigation, while the fire is in progress…to see what’s going on…to determine the origin and that type of stuff.”
Yarbrough says at the present time their “high-tech search component” has four legs and a tail. “We got a canine that does search, but if you get an eye-in-the-sky it just helps that much more. It can cover a lot of ground.”
“We’re looking forward to it,” a smiling Yarbrough said with a slight hint of the voice change mentioned earlier returning.
Whether or not it will be painted fire-engine-red is yet to be determined, but there will likely not be a lack of personnel volunteering to operate the new equipment.