As public-safety agencies continue to add drones to their tool-kits of life-saving solutions, vendors of UAV packages have noticed a remarkable uptick in demand.
“Sales have definitely doubled in 2017,” Rob Schield, CEO/Founder of Fire Cam said in a recent DroneLife interview.
Fire Cam is an Illinois-based, drone-solution provider founded by former firefighters. The company specializes in ready-to-fly drone kits marketed to public-safety agencies for firefighting operations, search and rescue, storm damage assessment, and haz-mat cleanup. Fire Cam also provides drone operation services for agencies that do not own drones.
“Our company alone has over 1,000 quotes out to police and fire departments across the U.S. for drones this year alone,” Schield said. He added that Fire Cam has seen a steady demand for DJI Inspire 1 and M200 models equipped with thermal imaging arrays. “When we were at DJI Airworks, they stated that public safety is forming up to be the leader in prosumer drone sales.”
Schield says police purchases account for about 70 percent of Fire Cam drone sales with firefighting agencies at 30 percent.
“You’d think it would be the other way around, but law enforcement is really targeting this for suspect recovery, crime scene investigation, SWAT overwatch and accident reconstruction just to name a few uses,” he added.
Government investment in drones is expected to more than double in eight years, according to a recent industry report. The study predicts spending will leap from $100 million to $250 million by 2025 with federal spending alone accounting for $170 million in new UAV tech purchases.
“The state and local government market for drones is expected to quadruple to $40 million in 2020, outperforming federal government demand, but remaining extremely modest in size,” the report notes.
Schield is bullish about public-safety drone sales in 2018. “Let’s put it this way. When our company gets called out with the local sheriff’s department for a suspect recovery, they are amazed at how fast we can find their suspect in the woods. And that alone has sold several drones to our local departments because they talk to each other and word gets around.”
One example of Fire Cam’s offering is the X3 4K gimbal mounted camera on a DJI Inspire. The camera offers better than 1080p resolution and can also take 12mp photos.
“The Inspire drone is also an excellent choice for police and fire departments to use as the X3 camera can quickly be detached and the Zenmuse XT Thermal Imaging Camera can be snapped in its place,” Schield said.
Fire Cam’s success has translated into a reputation as a major player in the drone industry. In May, DroneLife and JobforDrones announced a partnership with Fire Cam. The two sites help introduce Fire Cam’s drone solutions to the US and Worldwide marketplace.
“As a 25-year career Firefighter, I know what is involved in keeping the public and those who serve the public safe and feel that the benefits of UAVs will help to save lives and property,” Schield upon the partnership’s launch. “The solutions are here today. We work to put together solutions that include the airframe, the components and sensors, and the training and support that will allow people to use the tool effectively.”