Rockland gives clearance for acquisition of drones

By Stephen Betts | Oct 12, 2018
Photo by: City of Rockland This unmanned aircraft system is the type Rockland will be acquiring through a donation for use by the fire department,

Rockland — The Rockland City Council agreed Wednesday night, Oct. 10, to accept a donation to pay for drones for the fire department.

The vote was 4-1 with Councilor Ed Glaser opposed.

Glaser said he believed drones were just an "at-the-moment thing" and would be obsolete in five years. He said he did not think it would be another tool for the department, but would incur additional unplanned costs.

The resolve approved by the council accepts an anonymous donation of $24,050 that will cover the cost of two drones, iPads with accessories, and training and testing  for seven pilots.

Fire Chief Christopher Whytock made a presentation Sept. 5 to the City Council about possible uses for the unmanned aerial vehicles.

The drones could be used for a variety of activities, including search and rescue, checking out woods and grass fires, marine emergencies including checking on anyone injured on the Rockland Breakwater, overseeing hazardous material spill incidents, and providing protection for mass gatherings, such as the Maine Lobster Festival.

The device would not be used for surveillance, nor would it be used to investigate suspected criminal activity, Whytock told councilors last month,

The unmanned aircraft would only be used with the approval of the fire chief or his designee and the Knox County Emergency Management Agency director or his designee. Approval from both would be required for the device to fly, the chief said.

The staff of the fire department would receive pilot training.

Mayor Valli Geiger said she was pleased the city had come up with a policy to regulate the drones' use.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 12, 2018 16:03

How  wonderful, eyes in the sky and will help fire and enforcement officials! Money well spent and getting into the new era of law enforcement.

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