Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs 'all in' with fire rescue drones

Orange County budget approval expected Tuesday

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs told WKMG-TV News 6 that she is “all in” when it comes to the proposed addition of four unmanned aerial drones in the county’s Fire and Rescue budget request for fiscal 2017-2018.

“Oh, we’re all in (the county commission), I’m all in, I’m so excited about this program,” Jacobs said Monday, ”The drones will see what we will never see.”

The mayor was talking about thermal imaging employed by drones during recent pilot training sessions.

The fire department purchased two drones for the initial pilot program.

A battalion chief and lieutenant are already drone-flight ready and certified, with more Fire and Rescue first responders expected to be trained over the next few months.

Chief Otto Drozd presented his formal budget request for the new fiscal year Monday before the Orange County commissioners.

Drozd told the commissioners that the risk assessment using unmanned drones is impressive.

“It’s not only the capabilities,” Drozd told commissioners, “it’s the efficiency in the capabilities that will be brought to bear.” Drozd told News 6 that in his view, the drones are worth the investment, estimated to be about $80,000 to $100,000.
“Absolutely worth the investment,” said Drozd, “When you look at the risks we place on our personnel, this gives us a very efficient way to use existing sources ….It saves lives.”

Jacobs said she expects to expand the drone line-up within the next 12 months.

“I anticipate next year we will go much bigger, and there is new technology coming our way
that will be incorporated through drones to make rescue of our citizens safer,” Jacobs said.

The county commission budget vote is expected to take place at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday  at the city-county building on 200 Rollins street in Orlando.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.