Drones mounted with infrared cameras are bringing clarity to hazard reduction burns in the St George area.
In preparation for the upcoming bushfire season, Fire and Rescue NSW, in conjunction with Georges River Council, conducted a hazard reduction in Beaumaris Crescent, Mortdale, lessening fuel loads and the potential for intense fires.
The drones, called Remote Piloting Aerial Systems (RPAS), use thermal imagery - both video and still - to allow firefighters to see the fire through the smoke and trees.
Duty Commander Metro South 2 - D Platoon, FRNSW, Bradley Smith, said FRNSW were leaders in emergency services use of drone technology.
"We are able to remotely monitor areas of bush that we want to do a hazard reduction in," Insp Smith said.
"It provides a degree of flexibility and increases the response times - it's a lot faster to get a drone up with an imaging camera than to get a helicopter up, and provides a much safer fire ground environment, and it's certainly a lot less disruptive for the local community."
The footage is live-streamed into Insp Smith's fire vehicle and into emergency operation centres, providing immediate situational intelligence.
Bushfire Officer for Fire and Rescue South, Station Officer Greg Rood, said the drone was also useful for keeping an eye on fires during bushfire incidents.
"We can also do post-burn reporting and fuel management, as well as mapping to give land managers an accurate data account of what the fuel loadings are in their area," Mr Rood said.
"It's good for wildlife, too. Pre-burn we'll scan the sites and check for any wildlife that might be still within the surrounds of the perimeter."
He said it was the surface loads that "really add intensity" to bushfires.
"There were some really high fuel loads [at Beaumaris Crescent] and it was really good to get them to a manageable level," he said.
"Fires would still burn but they wouldn't pose those immediate threats that some of those highly-fueled areas pose."
The recent operation involved eight fire engines, 35 fire fighters and managers from the council.
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