BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — In a Thursday presser, Bentonville’s fire chief commended his department for its quick response to the massive fire that billowed Wednesday in Bentonville. Members of the department praised an unlikely source for playing a role in containing the United Industries blaze.
Drones are a relatively-new commodity, but they played a vital role in the battle against Wednesday’s fire, said Battalion Chief Jeremy Metcalf. The department had tried for months to get a demo of some specialized drones from Unmanned Vehicle Technologies, and Wednesday just so happened to be the day it worked out for a crew to go to Bentonville.
Just before the visitors fired up their drones, the department received a call notifying them of the billowing smoke. The timing couldn’t have been better for both parties.
“I think [the crew from UVT was] kinda itching, like they were wanting to get over here but didn’t really wan’t to ask,” Metcalf said.
That’s when a firefighter suggested they test the drones on some real action.
“I think he kinda mentioned, ‘hey, what’s a better time to demo your drones for us?'” Metcalf said.
The drones helped firefighters get a good look at the smoke column and see how far it traveled. More importantly, it kept some people out of harm’s way.
“We are able to figure out the temperature of the different portions of that vessel and air the fire department with information with how hot portions of that vessel were getting,” said Jarret Rhyner, the solutions specialist for UVT.
While heat and thermal capabilities certainly helped the department, Rhyner said the drones were handy “to monitor hot spots.”
The fire was serious, but Metcalf said the help of technology resulted in nobody getting hurt or worse.
“I think it worked out good for everybody,” Metcalf said.