Fire-fighting Drones?!

3689490079?profile=originalHello all, I am a newbie from Christchurch, New Zealand (born in UK though). A few years ago (well, quite a few), I was very much into my Electronics & R/C - just for fun & challenge etc. I would often think that a drone could be a useful addition to the fire service, in order to help quench a raging forest fire etc! Now I see the UAV has really 'taken off'! I havn't been even close to R/C or my hobby, Electronics, for about 20 years due to my various disabilities,

But a drone could easily be programmed to refresh its water payload at a close lake or at sea etc. Many such drones could be utilised for a team of them to really help douse a fire? Technology has really made many quantum leaps & is getting faster & faster, so fast that we are dragging the chain in the ideas department to utilise this rapid growth. All's I mean by that, is often I see an outdated system or device that could easily benifit from modern aid.

It seems that unless there is a $ to be made, people are not that interested in helping other people that could really use some decent help from some decent people! I  can see some non combat UAVs being put to a good use (as seen in many videos) & so I think that you guys are the ones that can engineer such a system (a fire UAV) & do it for common good & technical challenge etc (enormous, but with technology & brains, some  AI  ...)! I guess you & your experiences in UAV, GPS, IR heat sensors and some very clever inginuity, may be able to flex your UAV muscles & make it all work!

I hope I havn't stood on anyones toes here, if I did, it was not intentional! I jusat hope spmeone may see the points that I am trying to make & share their interesting hobby & clever techniques with the rest of the world that is not aware of such efforts & achievments you are each doing, one way or another.

Thanks for allowing me to even get close to the real brains of the world! Enjoy your day, see ya!



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  • It's be done already ! and for only $39.99 you can get your r/c water cannon Helicopter @


  • an interesting idea for this to use is this new electromagnetic fire suppression idea all you would need would be a uav big enough to house a large enough power power source and the transmitter array.

  • Moderator


    What about this one though.....

  • Thanks Josh.

    I get a feeling that nobody likes my peanut idea deployed by UAV's. :)

    Oh well, I think it has potential. Extinguish fires or perhaps target burnt areas to verify the fire is out.

    The ground unit is a good idea also.


  • Well they did make "fire bombs" and old form of fire extinguisher. some very old houses might still have them.

    they are fairly light weight. and they would clear a large area of fire. but they were stopped because they erradicate the air that is needed for people to breath.

    To have a fire you need to remove one of three things Oxigen, Heat, or Fuel. for a wildland fire removing the currently burning fuel isn't possible, removing the heat... well firedepartments use nossles of 200GPM @ 200PSI so i dont think that would be possible from the air. so all that is left is removing oxagen with carbon tetrachloride or simular.

    but this sight isnt just about Air Drones is it, there are people toying with larger ground vehicals. Fire Trucks are just like any other car pretty much. you have a GAS + Break, a stering wheel, and a hole lot of switches. it would be easy to automate one with deck guns and tower guns. but the automation of daisy chaining FireTrucks seems a bit on the hard side, to connect up a 5" Supply Line and screw it into place and open the supply valve takes a bit of force.

  • avionics, hi & thanks for your comments. I guess I am looking at a global size potential & the comparitive cost (to me) of a demo scale model drone, should easdily be offset by by the current global cost of lives, let alone property & valuables etc. I would agree, that the cost of such a drone, would be out of reach for most hobbyist. I am sure that testing the scale model drone, could be done way out in the desert or similar terrain, for the purpose of testing & demonstrating to the powers that be?  Perhaps special permission could be sought for such a good use of an UAV? I supose they use flying currently for remote bush fires for fast access & I doubt a crawler could improve much to a current fire truck. However ... if a current fire truck could be automated ... that does seem to be a possible answer?! Also, in that case., indeed, why not a giant rover, built like a fire truck, that coul return to launch to refill, in a chain too? When you think about it, we are trying to fight a huge fire, with tiny little water squirters & buckets!

    Thanks again & kind regards,



  • Ricky as you can see from the comments having a "Flying" UAV can be very costly and its payload limits the costeffectivenss and the laws to allow it to fly at first place, BUT would you be willing to change the direction you are looking from "Flying" to "Crawling" ? I think it can be more acheivable if we could develope a Rover like that can be controlled on the ground and to be sent more near to the fire where the humen lives are the main concern.

    would that direction be any of interst to you?. I wonder?.


    good luck

  • OK, I think I am getting it (thanks Lucidity) ...! So, first of all, thanks to the moderators for including the image (and its source), much appreciated. What a great picture & relevant article!

    Jesse, you are quite right, H2o is HEAVY! I was thinking of an UAV, not far off the size of a currently used vehical.

    Alan, yes I was thinking of such things as toxic & hazardous chemicals, smoke, perhaps even better stability in strong winds (by being automated) as Jesse also mentioned (by dumping any water in the tank), it may be good for SAR assistance, good ideas.

    Richard, yes, think big! if pilots (humans) can do it, I am sure automation & technology would have distinct advantages (biggest disadvantages would be cost or a technical glitch!) as mentioned. Perhaps we should ask the Military for advice, rather than re-inventing a wheel that may already exist?!

    Lucidity, I am not sure battery would get close enough for the job either. You do have a good point re 'the situational awareness'. However, if we can get a man on the Moon, a rover on Mars & remotely perform Surgery etc, surely the technology does exist & if more funds were diverted to R & D for such a fire fighting drone (thanks moderators), then perhaps it could be a realistic idea ( we have seen far fetched ideas, spring to life in time)?! That was also a great & relevant link to the youtube video.

    Randy, thank you for your thoughts. I am not into fire fighting or chemical reactions etc, but some of those ideas may just pop up in the future, keep them coming, you never know! I too, would like a bag of those peanuts! I am sure the fire departments wouldn't mind a grab either! I like your style of thinking & the fire departments may well like your ideas too!

    Jordan, thanks for thiose comments. I too think that the cost is a biggy, but also, 'no visable instrumentation' can be added to your list of savings! Also, consder the miles of copper (heavy) used for the instruments to be up in front of the pilot!


    Thanks for all those great comments, negative or positive, as they can all help to bring these far fetched ideas to life! I too, believe we have the technology today as there are many large systems that are unmanned & working now. Like most things worthwhile, there are many factors to consider & pro's/con's to weigh up. This is not an idea to be just tried & tested, in a cowboy fashion (as I have done myself many times in R/C!), but there are some very bright sparks out there that may be able to impress the big wigs?! The basic idea probably needs to be demonstrated in reduced scale, to demonstrate the concept viability & taken from there?


    No matter what, I must thank all of you that respond to my post & for giving your own thoughts. You never know, this idea may be like 'wildfire' & you could be watching the drones on TV before you know it!

    Thanks again for all comments.

    Many regards,




  • @Lucidity - that is EXACTLY the sort of setup I'm wanting to put together and offer for use in either wildland firefighting or SAR. I'll need to do a bit of research on the thermal camera. The one question that comes to mind on that unit first is whether the image is selectable in flight between white-hot and black-hot modes. Time to look up some spec sheets.

  • No doubt you're right, Jordan -- and I'd bet we'll live to see the technology you describe being actively deployed. My comments were merely in regard to technology as it exists today.

    Hey, Ricky -- no worries. You can even respond to us right here in the public forum. Just be sure to get the URL from Randy where we can buy those fire-extinguishing, plant-fertilizing, web-enabled peanuts... Those sound REALLY useful. :)

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