FDNY Uses New Drone for 1st Time at Bronx Fire

The FDNY used its new drone for the first time while responding to a large apartment building fire in the Bronx Monday, officials say. 

The blaze broke out after 6 p.m. at a six-story building at 653 Crotona Park North, and quickly spread from the third floor to the sixth floor, fire officials say.

It's not clear what caused the fire. Two firefighters had minor injuries and were taken to Jacobi Hospital, the FDNY says.

The fire chief says the department had been practicing using the drone for about six to eight months before finally launching it at a real fire Monday. 

"There was a lot of training with the FAA pilots, so we put it into service last week, and this is the first time we used it," he said. 

The red tethered drone weighs about 8 pounds and lifts a high-definition camera, along with an infrared camera to help see hot spots, according to the FDNY.

FDNY Commissioner Dan Nigro said Tuesday the new drone "proved its worth by giving us this bird's-eye view that our chiefs never had." 

The New York Times reported last fall the drone cost $85,000, and the FDNY spent nearly two years of research and planning on the project. A dozen firefighters were trained to work with the drones, which take two people to operate. 

The FDNY still has to have special clearance from the FAA to send up drones in the three-quarters of the city, where airspace is still restricted. 

One obvious concern is the drone battery dying and the device falling into the blaze, but firefighters have that figured out. 

"It is tethered so it is connected to a cable," said Nigro. "The good part of that is they can operate for hours on end, because it is powered." 

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