REAS 2023: Drones, aerial vehicles, helicopters against fires

New Technologies in Frontline Fire Fighting

With rising summer temperatures and the increasing threat of forest fires, Italy is stepping up its efforts to tackle these emergencies. A key part of firefighting involves the use of aerial means, helicopters and drones. This year, the summer firefighting campaign is well equipped with a fleet of 34 aircraft, under the coordination of the Unified Air Operations Centre (COAU) of the Civil Protection Department. This varied fleet consists of fourteen ‘Canadair CL-415’, two ‘AT-802 Fire Boss’ amphibious aircraft, five ‘S-64 Skycrane’ helicopters and thirteen helicopters of various types.

In the summer of 2022, the COAU carried out 1,102 fire-fighting missions, accumulating over 5,849 flight hours and launching over 176 million litres of extinguishing agent. An impressive achievement that demonstrated the effectiveness and importance of the use of aerial means in the fight against flames. However, the most interesting and promising news concerns the integration of drones in these operations.

Drones, the latest news at REAS 2023

Drones are becoming increasingly popular and are being used by various agencies and organisations to monitor the territory, detect fires in advance and even catch air pirates. Forestry, fire brigades and regional civil defence organisations are taking full advantage of drones to optimise rescue operations. During REAS 2023, the 22nd edition of the international exhibition on emergency, civil protection, first aid and firefighting, two brand new ‘made in Italy’ fixed-wing, solar-powered drones will be previewed, marking a breakthrough in aerial firefighting technology.

The ‘FireHound Zero LTE’ is equipped with a sophisticated infrared sensor that can detect fires and transmit the precise coordinates, even of small fires. This early detection capability can be crucial in reacting early and preventing the spread of flames. On the other hand, there is the ‘Fire Responder,’ a vertical take-off and landing drone, capable of carrying up to six kilograms of extinguishing material, which can be released directly onto the flames. This type of targeted intervention enables rapid and effective extinguishing.

In addition, REAS 2023 will also distribute the new ‘Air Rescue Network Aeronautical Chart,’ which will provide a complete picture of Italy’s network of over 1,500 airports, airfields and heliports. These facilities can be used as logistical bases for civil protection, firefighting and air rescue operations. Knowledge of these infrastructures is essential to ensure a rapid response in the event of an emergency.

Many meetings and training workshops

In parallel with the exhibition of new technologies, REAS 2023 will host several conferences, panel discussions, demonstration sessions and training workshops. The aim is to provide a platform for sharing experience and knowledge between industry professionals and the institutions involved. Leading speakers and representatives of institutions and associations will attend to discuss crucial topics, such as the 2023 summer fire campaign and the use of drones in firefighting missions.

The event, organised by the Montichiari Trade Fair Centre in cooperation with Hannover Fairs International GmbH and Interschutz, the world’s leading trade fair held every four years in Hannover, promises to be a unique opportunity to promote collaboration between industry players and highlight innovative solutions for dealing with emergencies.

In conclusion, the technological progress in the use of aircraft, helicopters and drones in the fight against forest fires is encouraging news for Italy’s civil protection and land safety. REAS 2023 will be a springboard for these new technologies, providing a platform for discussion and collaboration to ensure an increasingly effective and efficient response to future fire challenges. Continuous research and the adoption of state-of-the-art tools are essential to protect natural resources and the safety of citizens.



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