COEUR D’ALENE, ID. – The Idaho Department of Lands has started using drones to battle wildfires.
Idaho officials said the drones have the ability to show them what areas to focus on, which can also protect crews in the firefighting process.

From above the wildfire, a drone can produce images of fire and smoke in real time using a regular camera lens or infrared viewer.

“It enhances my situational awareness, which also allows me to make decisions in prioritizing fires,” IDL fire warden Kjell Truesdell said.

Officials said this new perspective can be essential when fighting the fires on the ground and is more effective than using a helicopter. That’s mostly due to the infrared view and because a drone can fly in some situations where planes or choppers might be grounded because of excessive smoke.

This is the first year IDL has used drones to fight wildfires. Officials said they have been testing out the new technology and drafting new policies throughout the last year.

There are currently two drones across Idaho and four certified operators. Officials said they plan to train more people to operate the drones.