Fire departments nationwide using drones

Fire departments are now catching on to the popularity of drones.

Firefighters from across the country gathered in Menlo Park Friday for a symposium on drones. The Menlo Park Fire Department hoped to show what they have learned so other departments can develop their own drone programs. 

It has taken the Menlo Park Fire Department three years to get their drone program off the ground. They now have 10 drones, five operators, and growing experience.

Captain Tony Eggimann with MPFD says, "It's been a slow go and a lot of lessons learned- and pitfalls along the way which is what today is all about... sharing those with other departments to help them avoid some of those and their programs up and running even faster."

Over 50 departments were invited to the symposium along with drone companies and regulators. The goal was to figure out the future of firefighting. 

Drone companies say the technology is only getting better- from infrared sensors to the ability to carry small payloads, like supplies to a stranded boat. 

Ben Hansen, Matternet, says, "What we're really focused on is figuring out what are the various ways that we can help apply our technology to emergency first response". 

Local departments like Alameda County and Fremont, often meet with Menlo Park. They say the shared knowledge is invaluable. 

And now, those from as far away as Miami, are getting access too.

Mark Moore with Miami Department of Fire and Rescue says, "Using this resource is huge. Every time you send a drone up, we find another reason to use it."

Menlo Park says the symposium has been such a success, they want to make it an annual event.