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Norfolk, Ne Fire Division Gets Drone Grant

Improved M30T Upgrades Fire Prevention Capabilities

TC Energy awarded the Fire Department of Norfolk, Nebraska to the tune of $20,000 for the purchase of a thermal drone and supporting equipment.

The local fire chief said the Division uses a smaller, less capable UAV at the moment, spotting areas of excessive heat during ongoing structure fires or spotting incipient wildfires when out in the surrounding territories.

The drone would appear to be a DJI Matrice M30T, which is equipped with a 12-megapixel wide angle camera, 48-mp zoom camera, and built-in thermal imager with laser rangefinder. The M30T sports a top speed just north of 50 mph, able to withstand 33-mph winds, a 22,965-ft max altitude (or so the specs promise by a "7000m service ceiling), and a 41-minute flight time. That's a lot of capability for a small fire operation looking to nip a bad fire in the bud. The street pricing for an M30T seems to sit somewhere around $10,000 at the moment, leaving plenty of budget for all the props, batteries, tablets, and computer needed to keep the department running.

"It has thermal capabilities, so it can sense heat and show that on the images that we're looking at," said Norfolk Fire Chief Tim Wragge. "The other is that it can fly in a little bit more significant weather conditions. Some of the winds that we see here in the good old Midwest, some of the drones struggle with a little bit. And this one just expands our capabilities in those areas."


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