A Drone Helped Firefighters Combat the London Grenfell Tower Inferno

The London Fire Brigade and Kent’s Fire and Rescue Services collaborated in using a drone to monitor the damage at London’s Grenfell Tower last week in hopes to minimize casualties and gather data.

byMarco Margaritoff|
A Drone Helped Firefighters Combat the London Grenfell Tower Inferno

After the horrific Grenfell Tower incident in London last Wednesday, firefighters opted to use a drone to further examine the damage before sending more firefighters into a potential disaster zone. Fortunately, when tragedy occurs, people have a way of coming together and jointly working on solutions. In this case, it was Kent's Fire and Rescue Service that supplied London's Fire Brigade with a drone that would help observe detailed damage to the structure without risking further life. 

Purchased in 2015 by Kent Fire and Rescue, the drone used contains more than just a simple high-definition camera. Armed with thermal imaging technology, the drone was able to not only supply the fire brigade with a live video feed, but detect any potential body heat within through the building's walls.

We've seen drones being implemented in emergency situations before, and this is a strong argument to continue that approach. The decision to send in the drone came after the number of casualties exceeded 30, at around noon of last Wednesday. The urge to prevent further loss of life was facilitated with Kent Fire and Rescue's drone—an acceptable casualty in contrast to potentially trapping firefighters within the compromised 24-story structure. 

According to a spokesman for London's Fire Brigade, via Newsweek, the primary function of the drone was "to help monitor the building" and use its data-gathering capabilities to reassess the fire brigade's rescue approach. In other words, "a building can sometimes be too dangerous" to enter after a fire, as its structural integrity could be compromised, according to Kent Fire and Rescue's station manager, Adam Green. Of course, the drone is simply a part of the solution, and doesn't entirely resolve the situation on its own, "But for investigation work, you might be able to see where it started from the burn pattern from the air," said Green.

While the investigation is ongoing and there are currently no signs of the fire being set intentionally, the cooperation between Fire and Rescue and the Fire Brigade is heartwarming to witness. According to the company that built the drone used at Grenfell, Aeryon, 43 fire and rescue services worldwide had tested their product by last November, and the demand just seems to keep growing. The results are definitely efficient and preventative of further human loss of life, and lead to encouraging collaboration between agencies, such as the one at Grenfell. London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Dany Cotton, publicly thanked Kent's Fire and Rescue Service on Twitter and shared a photo of the drone in action. 

As you can see from the replies, the thanks were appreciated, and mutual. This is the kind of drone news that lifts spirits.

As the investigation continues, we at The Drive will make sure to report on any developments of what occurred at Grenfell Tower. What is clear, currently, is that the London Fire Brigade and Kent's Fire and Rescue Services deserve massive respect and support, in part for deciding to use a drone when it really matters.