Drones for fire fighting is no longer an utopian dream. They are already being successfully used to survey locations and for fire reconnaissance, and they are most likely also suitable for fire fighting. That is what a test conducted by Latvian startup Aerones at the end of August in Treffling near Linz has shown.

Extinguishing from 85 m height

Aerones converted its heavy-duty drone into an extinguishing device in order to test how high it can go, how it behaves in flight and when discharging water, and how to control it in the most varied of operational situations. The following video shows the successful test, in which an altitude of about 85 m was reached with an output performance of around 100 l of water per minute. Even the targeted water discharge worked, as can be seen on the images, and the backlash of the nozzle was no problem for the experienced drone pilot.

The specific test configuration

The test was carried out with a Rosenbauer high pressure extinguishing system. Rosenbauer provided a vehicle with a built-in NH pump, which produces a standard output of 400 l/min at 40 bar via the high-pressure stage.

The drone has a diameter of three meters, weighs 70 kg, and can transport a load of more than 100 kilograms. It was fitted with a Rosenbauer NEPIRO high-pressure nozzle, which was connected to the pump unit in the vehicle via a free hanging HP hose line.

Power was supplied via a power line, which was fed parallel to the HP hose, making the drone independent of the battery’s running time. It also features four floats in order to be able to take off from and land on water.

Conclusion and outlook

“Flying nozzles” for deployment in high-rise fires at over 80 m which can be easily controlled remotely or even fly autonomously much like turrets, are a very conceivable future scenario.The test in Treffling has demonstrated the fundamental feasibility. However, some development work is still needed until fire departments can actually work with extinguishing drones.

For example, the discharge height of the extinguishing agent can be raised quite a bit when compressed air foam is used instead of water. Rosenbauer has already proven this with SKYCAFS when it pumped compressed air foam up to a height of 400 m. The Rosenbauer development engineers remain engaged on the topic of extinguishing drones, since the megatrend of urbanization is forcing fire departments and their equipment suppliers to give further thought to how extinguishing high-rise fires can be managed in the future in ever more densely populated urban areas.