Firefighters are using fireball-dropping drones to contain wildfires

As the West Coast continues to battle unprecedented wildfires, firefighters are taking innovative steps to try to keep the flames under control. More recently, firefighters in the region have added drones to the equation, using the technology to drop special fireballs to contain the spread of the wildfires.

Outfitted with a funnel-shaped device, the drones are dropping ping pong ball-sized incendiaries, called “Dragon Eggs,” which explode when they hit the ground, starting small fires known as backfires.

While fighting fire with fire may sound counterintuitive, backfires are a common technique used to combat wildfires. The goal is to start controlled burns in order to remove any possible fuel sources for larger fires, thus preventing them from spreading.

“A bonus is you can do nighttime ops and work in smoky conditions, because if a drone crashes, no one dies,” Simon Weibel, a firefighter who works for a company called Drone Amplified, told National Geographic. The advantage of the drones lies in their size and maneuverability, allowing them to access places that conventional aircraft can’t reach.

One single firefighting drone can release about 450 Dragon Eggs in a matter of minutes. Currently, at least 30 pilots are guiding around two dozen drones across Western states this season — twice as many as last year.

Apart from drones, firefighters are also pulling other innovative technologies into the fray, including smoke-penetrating thermal-imaging cameras and wearing high-tech flame-resistant clothing.

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Firefighters are using fireball-dropping drones to contain wildfires

As the West Coast continues to battle unprecedented wildfires, firefighters are taking innovative steps to try to keep the flames under control. More recently, firefighters in the region have added drones to the equation, using the technology to drop special fireballs to contain the spread of the wildfires.

Outfitted with a funnel-shaped device, the drones are dropping ping pong ball-sized incendiaries, called “Dragon Eggs,” which explode when they hit the ground, starting small fires known as backfires.

While fighting fire with fire may sound counterintuitive, backfires are a common technique used to combat wildfires. The goal is to start controlled burns in order to remove any possible fuel sources for larger fires, thus preventing them from spreading.

“A bonus is you can do nighttime ops and work in smoky conditions, because if a drone crashes, no one dies,” Simon Weibel, a firefighter who works for a company called Drone Amplified, told National Geographic. The advantage of the drones lies in their size and maneuverability, allowing them to access places that conventional aircraft can’t reach.

One single firefighting drone can release about 450 Dragon Eggs in a matter of minutes. Currently, at least 30 pilots are guiding around two dozen drones across Western states this season — twice as many as last year.

Apart from drones, firefighters are also pulling other innovative technologies into the fray, including smoke-penetrating thermal-imaging cameras and wearing high-tech flame-resistant clothing.

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