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Community group gifts $7K drone to Mass. FD after wildfire

The Rockport Rotary Club gave the fire department a DJI thermal drone after seeing a privately owned drone used during a wildfire


Rockport, MA Fire Department/Facebook

By Gail McCarthy
Gloucester Daily Times

ROCKPORT, Mass. — The Rotary Club of Rockport has gifted the Town of Rockport a drone to be used for public safety.

The drone idea was originally presented to the Rotary board in September by Co-President Janelle Favaloro and Secretary Kecia German. At that time, the Fire Department was battling the forest fires in Woodland Acres in the Pigeon Cove section of town.

This fire continued to burn underground for weeks after the initial call on July 13. One important resource for the Fire Department had been the use of a personal drone offered by Mike Montgomery, who works in the town’s Information Systems and Technologies Department as a user support specialist.

Favaloro, wife of now retired fire Capt. Frank Favaloro and mother to firefighter Katie Favaloro, was visiting the scene when Montgomery arrived with his drone.

After speaking with Forest Fire Warden Mike Frontierro and then Chief Kirk Keating about the value of a drone for the department, Favaloro took notes to present at the next Rotary board meeting. At the same time, German, who was reading about the ongoing battle in the Gloucester Daily Times articles, also suggested that the club should discuss the possibility of funding a drone for the town.

The Rotary board unanimously approved the request.

The DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise Thermal drone was purchased at a cost of $7,000 and was funded by a Rotary International District Grant which was approved last November. This means the Rockport Rotary Club pays for the drone upfront and will be reimbursed by the district for the other half at the end of 2023.

As part of the agreement to supply the drone to the Rockport Fire Department, it was required that at least two firefighters had to be certified to fly the drone. This resulted in Quincy Carvino and Nathaniel Favaloro obtaining their certifications in advance of the drone delivery. An individual must obtain a FAA Remote Pilot Certificate to operate a drone under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107), This certificate demonstrates an understanding of the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones.

Coincidentally, Nathaniel Favaloro is a licensed pilot and Carvino is an IT professional, making them ideal candidates.

“It is the hope of the Rotary Club of Rockport that the drone is used in other areas such as lost persons, diver rescues and boating incidents,” according to a statement from the club. “Recently, Rockport firefighters were requested to bring the drone to Gloucester for mutual aid on April 8 to assist in surveying a brush fire on Hillside Court.”

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