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Scappoose Fire holds FAA drone certification training

PORTLAND, Ore. — Many people are still without a home after a fire destroyed the May Apartments on Southwest 14th and Taylor Street Tuesday morning. Fire crews are now using new technology to try and figure out the cause — by using a drone. 

Jeff Pricher, the Scappoose Fire Cheif, says more agencies are working to get their Federal Aviation Administration commercial drone license and he’s helping them along the way with a two-week program.

“We are taking our students from an entry-level and teaching them to be professional pilots,” said Pricher.

Pricher is leading a two-week aviation course at Powell Butte Nature Park. Teaching state government and land management agencies alongside law enforcement and fire officials how to fly drones and obtain their FAA commercial drone license and more.

“[It] teaches them aeronautical decision-making, crew resource management, and safety management systems which are the pillars of a successful aviation program,” said Pricher.

Scappoose Fire has been flying drones since 2015. Since then, it has created its aviation program — a first of its kind in Columbia County. 

After the two-week program, some students will go through additional training to obtain an additional certification that will allow them to fly up to 1,200 feet across the entire state of Oregon compared to the 400 feet FAA limit. 

“Our goal is to build a trust climate with the crew aviation community as well as the public so they don’t think we’re out here playing with toys,” said Pricher. 

This past week, Pricher assisted Portland Fire with a drone to map out a 2D and 3D picture of the scene to help investigators pinpoint where the May Apartments fire started.

“And then, we’re going to do some very specific photos to help enhance one of the areas of interest that the fire investigators have,” said Pricher.    

Scappoose Fire nor Portland Fire were able to share the 3D picture obtained of the May Apartments on Friday due to the ongoing investigation. 

Scappoose Fire used the same drone tech at the Portland Korean Church fire back in February — but it doesn’t stop at commercial buildings. This new technology will soon help wildfire crews map out the perimeter of the fire and help direct water resources. They also expect to help investigators with major car crashes.

Portland Fire and Rescue says it will continue the investigation at the May Apartments through at least Wednesday — maybe even through the end of next week. The agency is planning to send an investigator inside the building to complete the scene examination on Tuesday.


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Written by Townreels


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