U.S. Forest Service Turns to Drones to Protect those in the Air and on the Ground


The U.S. Forest Service has committed to reduce human flights in high-risk situations and move to Unmanned Aerial Systems where possible when using prescribed fires. “Prescribed fires are an essential tool for increasing landscape resiliency and creating safe spaces for wildland firefighters to work,” a communication from USFS Chief Victoria Christiansen stated.

“Our intent going forward is to move to use UAS for aerial prescribed fires. This will allow us to conduct most aerial prescribed fires without the need for operators in helicopters. The UAS Aviation Business Case (ABC) and Risk Assessment for the program have been signed and we have secured U.S. Department of Agriculture support,” the communication to all Regional Foresters and Deputy Chiefs said.

Chief Christiansen concluded that “employees are at the heart and soul of our organization and their safety is paramount in everything we do to accomplish our mission…and ensure we keep everyone safe so our employees can go home at the end of their workday.”