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Drones to assist Australian firefighters

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Sydney, March 7, 2016: Australian firefighters across New South Wales (NSW) state can now use drones to help locate and assess fires in real time.

The two new drones will provide Fire and Rescue NSW with real-time images of areas too dangerous to access and enable rapid damage assessments of fires, chemical spills and natural disasters.

NSW state minister for emergency services David Elliott said the drones, mobile data terminals and mobile command centres put Fire and Rescue NSW at the cutting edge of emergency management.

“Firefighters are forced to make life and death decisions under extreme pressure, and often with very little information,” Elliott said.

“The NSW government is investing in the best technology available to help firefighters make those decisions easier and faster and better protect our communities.”

Trucks will have access to a range of information such as live weather data, pre-incident plans and maps of hydrants, electricity, gas and drainage via a 100-metre wi-fi bubble.

Wildfires are an annual summer event in Australia, however, the authorities have been on high alert since September last year over unseasonably warm temperatures, prompting scientists and climate activists to speculate climate change could be extending an increasing the intensity of the fire season.

Four people tragically died in a series of wildfires sparked by lightning in Western Australia state in November last year, while most recently, two people were killed and 143 properties were razed by wild fires in Western Australia’s key dairy producing region.

Coupled with the ensuring El Nino weather patten – predicted to subside by second quarter 2016 – wild weather such as flash flooding has further hindered the region’s recovery.

More than 100 homes were destroyed along Australia’s Great Ocean Road in Victoria state over the Christmas period.