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Japan debuts its 1st fire emergency vehicle equipped with drone pad

The Yaizu Fire Department's drone operations team SKY SHOOT is seen with the new command vehicle equipped with a drone landing pad at the city's fire prevention center in Shizuoka Prefecture, on Feb. 28, 2021. (Mainichi/Kaoru Watanabe)

YAIZU, Shizuoka -- Japan's first fire emergency command vehicle with a drone landing pad has entered service with a fire department in this central Japan city, with a delivery ceremony held on Feb. 28.

    Along with the command vehicle, the Yaizu Fire Department also introduced a new pumper truck at the ceremony, attended by some 50 firefighters. After getting a large key-shaped plate from Yaizu Mayor Hiromichi Nakano, fire chief Misao Iwamoto stated, "We feel high expectations for our squad (with the introduction of the new vehicles) and a keen sense of responsibility. We'll better ourselves to become a squad worthy of the new vehicles."

    The command vehicle is a van with a capacity of five people, and drones will be able to take off and land on the pad on the vehicle's roof when responding to difficult situations such as fires and landslides. A 19-inch display is mounted inside the van, allowing firefighters to monitor video sent from drones. The department hopes it will be able to make on-site emergency response more efficient now that it has the command vehicle and drones to check places inaccessible to people in major disasters including fires and earthquakes.

    The Yaizu Fire Department launched its drone operations team "SKY SHOOT" in January 2020. Four of the 16 team members are women, and according to the city, the team has Japan's first female firefighter drone pilots.

    "Each member has their own role, such as maneuvering the drone, situation assessment and safety confirmation," said SKY SHOOT deputy commander Sachiko Ishikawa. She added, "We will improve our knowledge and skills to better respond to emergency situations."

    (Japanese original by Kaoru Watanabe, Shizuoka Bureau)

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