The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government will begin training municipal firefighters nationwide to be drone operation advisers this fiscal year, ahead of plans to expand the use of drones to gather information and conduct search and other operations at disaster sites.
These advisers will visit local firefighting headquarters to promote the use of drones.
Drones are capable of quickly gathering information and probing dangerous areas that are inaccessible to firefighters and helicopters during disasters.
They can record aerial images and video, and some models are equipped with infrared cameras that sense human body temperature and sensors that detect carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and other toxic fumes.
The use of drones will reduce the risk of secondary damage, enabling firefighters to conduct more effective rescue operations.
When heavy rains struck western Japan in July of last year, drones were dispatched to search for missing people in areas hit by landslides where there was a risk of collapse.
Drones were also used to search for people swept away by rivers during bad weather in which helicopters could not fly.
However, only 116 of 728 firefighting headquarters nationwide — or about 16 percent — had introduced drones as of June 2018, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
Drones are not yet widely accepted in Japan, with only 91 other headquarters — or 13 percent — planning to introduce them.
The government plans to get senior firefighters stationed at local headquarters to attend lectures run by private companies. At these lectures, they will learn about drone operation, aerial photography and video-shooting techniques, drone maintenance and relevant laws and regulations.
The government, which plans to train 15 drone operation advisers this fiscal year, intends to increase the number to about 30 annually from the next fiscal year onward. It plans to certify 135 firefighters as advisers by fiscal 2023.
Starting next fiscal year, the government will also dispatch certified advisers to local firefighting headquarters to demonstrate how to use drones.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has earmarked about ¥5 million to train drone advisers in its fiscal 2019 budget request.