Santa Clara County supervisors vote to fund wildfire detection drones | News

A small hot spot burns in the Loma Mar area by the CZU August Lighting Complex fires on Aug. 25, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

In an effort to address California’s growing problems with wildfires, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Sept. 13 to allocate more funds for fire resources, including a drone fire detection program.

Supervisors unanimously approved a referral that funds 14 drone systems to be used for fire detection and suppression efforts for the county’s Central Fire Protection District, in addition to a one-time allotment of $250,000. The referral was authored by Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Otto Lee.

The hope is for the drones to quickly identify source areas of fires, weak spots in burning buildings and safety hazards via thermal imaging.

“Here in Santa Clara County we must act now to ensure that the Central Fire District has the tools necessary to do the necessary preventative work, and the ability to use technology to support their ongoing work.” Chavez said in a statement.

Back in April 2022, Supervisor Joe Simitian requested the board to add on a fuel reduction crew in the fire district, along with an expansion on the district’s Pre-Fire Management and Wildfire Resilience program. Even more crew members working to clear out brush and vegetation reduces the risk of boisterous wildfires in the county’s future, said Simitian.

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