The same issue that grounded the Niceville Police Department’s Drone has also grounded the Fire Department’s drones.
Niceville Fire Department Logo
The Drones, sold to the department by the Police-equipment Company Axon, are DJI-brand drones which have been equipped with aftermarket tools to make them more useful for public safety agencies to use.
DJI is a Chinese Company suspected of having ties to the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party.
The DOD memo which grounded the drones warns against their use by law enforcement, because the drones transmit information about wireless signals to a server in China.
The fire department’s drones are used primarily for scouting woodland fires in the area, to search for and find lost individuals, and for search and rescue missions Niceville FD’s boat-based unit undertakes.
Currently, each shift has a primary and backup Part 107-certified sUAS pilot. The certification allows the fire fighter to use a drone for public safety and commercial purposes.