Darley Stinger drone helicopter gives firefighters 'eye in the sky'

Having a vantage point at a higher altitude gives firefighters new size-up capabilities


Firefighters will soon get the chance to add an aerial drone to their arsenal of tools to help them size-up and tackle fires.

Set to go on market in the coming months, the Darley Stinger is an unmanned aerial vehicle that can provide crucial information about an incident scene more quickly and efficiently than before.

"It gives firefighters the advantage of having an eye in the sky," said Mike Mocerino, a developer behind the drone.

Photo DarleyIn development for about a year, the Stinger drone was inspired by a 2010 trip to a firefighting trade show in China.
Photo DarleyIn development for about a year, the Stinger drone was inspired by a 2010 trip to a firefighting trade show in China.

Having a vantage point at a higher altitude gives firefighters new size-up capabilities like quickly identifying the size and scope of a wildfire or peering into the 15th floor of a high-rise building in a major city — all without having to send firefighters in.

Firefighters can "get a view when they couldn't get a view before, instead of dispatching someone," according to Mocerino.

The Stinger drone is operated with a remote control and includes GPS technology to help it navigate.

Firefighters can choose three modes of operation — a full manual setting with no assistance, a "position hold" setting that has the drone maintain altitude and location while allowing operators to adjust the camera, and a "come home" feature that automatically sends the Stinger drone back to the operator.

The camera on board the Stinger streams video to the fire department's choice of goggles, a command post carrying case with a flat screen monitor, or set up on a laptop.

Video from the drone can be recorded and used for training purposes, and models with certain features can include the option of having video recorded on-board the drone itself.

The Stinger's camera itself comes in three options — high definition without zoom, high definition with zoom, and with a thermal imager for visibility amid smoke or nighttime conditions.

In addition to the option to add a thermal imager, the drone comes with LED lights on board that can help the operator see where it's positioned in the air when in low visibility conditions.

Darley plans to offer training support when the Stinger drone is released, which will likely include training DVDs, instructors and one-on-one training classes, and the option of buying a practice drone to avoid the risk of crashing the actual drone during training.

In development for about a year, the Stinger drone was inspired by a 2010 trip to a firefighting trade show in China, according to Co-COO Peter Darley.

"This kind of technology has changed a lot in the last couple of years, it's become a lot more affordable and dependable," Darley said.

After the trade show, Darley set out to create the Stinger drone, which is completely designed and developed in the United States.

Darley has been a manufacturer of apparatus, pumps and emergency services equipment since 1908. For more details on the Stinger drone, call the  1-800-323-0244 or visit the company's official website at www.darley.com.

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