BAR HARBOR — The newest member of the Bar Harbor Fire Department can fly and see in the dark, but it’s not a superhero. It’s a drone.
Assistant Fire Chief John Lennon said the drone will help firefighters locate missing people in search and rescue operations. It will also help them assess the extent of brush or forest fires.
“It has a built-in thermal camera,” Lennon said, “that can see in the dark, and through smoke.” It also has an infrared heat sensing camera.
It can “see” at least three miles, even in poor visibility conditions.
Also useful for search and rescue operations, Lennon said, is a searchlight and a speaker for communicating with victims, lost persons or other first responders.
“It’s new technology,” Lennon said, already in use by the forest service and game wardens. “Some of us have been thinking of it for awhile,” he said.
The drone can fly for 31 minutes at a time on a charged battery, Lennon said. It is operated remotely by a control device with a screen.
Flight conditions require wind at less than 22 miles per hour, and temperatures above 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drone operators must be licensed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). So far two members of the Fire Department are licensed to fly the drone: Lennon and Larry Nuesslein.