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This article was published 15/8/2018 (521 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was, literally, a trial by fire Tuesday night for a new high-tech tool recently purchased by the city.
And the pricey thermal-imaging camera-equipped drone made a helpful debut, giving firefighters a valuable look inside a burning Selkirk Avenue building as they worked to keep it from spreading.
"Our drone was able to help the incident commanders really tactically decide where they were going to apply water streams, from an elevated vantage point," Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service assistant Chief Jason Shaw said Wednesday morning.
"It actually saved us some time."
The building, a private home with an attached storefront at 702 Selkirk Ave., was completely engulfed in flames when emergency personnel arrived just before 8 p.m. Five people inside had escaped without injury.
Firefighters perched in the bucket of a WFPS ladder truck's bucket watched from above Wednesday morning as the gutted brick structure, surrounded by blackened debris, was demolished Wednesday morning.
Officials did not release any information on the cause or provide a damage cost estimate.
The wood-frame buildings in the area are located close to each other, and flames can jump from one to another in short order, Shaw said.
"When you get into these types of structures — lots of walls, lots of renovations — the fire can spread quickly," he said.
"We were very happy to protect the exposures on either side."
The $44,000 drone program, announced in May, was funded through the City of Winnipeg's innovation capital fund. At that time, officials told the Free Press master pilots were training a 16-person team to operate the drone.
"We have trained operators on every shift — it’s not like it’s one platoon or one area — the drone is located at one of our stations in the northeast quadrant of the city," said Shaw. "It can respond as needed, as an incident commander calls for it."
On Tuesday the drone operator was able to see hot spots to target when it was unsafe for firefighters to be inside building.
The drone is available for crews at any time, Shaw said, adding it will also be used for water search-and-rescues, emergency management and for responding to severe weather events and in other situations should the need arise.
"It’s a diverse piece of equipment," he said.
Emergency services are constantly evaluating emerging and developing technologies and saw value in having such a unit available in the city.
"This was deemed as something that we wanted to explore," Shaw said. "We felt it was a necessary tool to assist us in emergency mitigation."