For public safety departments this question may seem more like a 1980’s movie plot, however, recent years and the even more recent executive order signed by President Donald Trump last Wednesday makes this a very real and plausible question.
Prior to Wednesday’s developments, fire departments, law enforcement agencies and EMS providers have explored Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Operations [otherwise known as drones, Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft] via certification through FAA 14 CFR Part 107, or a FAA — Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA). However, both come with certain restrictions and limitations. Although we can’t comment on the exact details of what extra new avenues a Public Safety Department can explore based on this order, the fact that the presidential order is aimed at local governments and allowing more freedom to test and explore UAS applications via waiver’s through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this can only result in an increase in the experimentation, use and adoption of UAS within the Public Safety Community. What we can now explore today is different from last week and will likely be ever changing in the weeks that follow.
So what’s NFPA doing to help Public Safety Departments enter the UAS arena? Well we are putting together a standard, NFPA® 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations. This standard is being developed by representatives from all types of public safety departments with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including the fire service, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. It covers everything from organization deployment to professional qualifications to UAS maintenance. (Download our fact sheet for some useful tools and sources you can use right now, and additional exclusive NFPA membership content that shares the concepts discussed by the technical committee.)
The committee responsible for developing NFPA 2400 will be meeting this November to discuss industry suggestions to NFPA 2400. Stay tuned for more NFPA UAS activity as there is much more to come. Fly safe and land softly.