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The Role of Drone Delivery in Wildland Firefighting

The Role of Drone Delivery in Wildland Firefighting

In the demanding world of wildland firefighting, a technological ally could make all the difference: delivery drones. These high-tech helpers, like the DJI FlyCart 30, can bring firefighting equipment directly to where it's needed most—on the front lines. Let's delve into how these drones can provide crucial support and potentially transform emergency response efforts.


Imagine the intense environment that wildland firefighters face

The searing summer heat, the oppressive smoke, the protective gear, and the rugged, uneven terrain they must navigate. All of these factors combine to create a perfect storm for heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion.

Our engagement with wildfire management has revealed firsthand accounts from front-line firefighters.

They've shared the physical toll that the preparatory work of hauling hoses and pumps takes on their bodies—exertion that comes even before the battle with the fire begins. While dropping water from helicopters helps to contain the fires, the real extinguishing power comes from pumping water directly onto the flames. The quicker firefighters can get water flowing through the hoses, the more effective they become in their fight against the fires.

The stamina of the fire crews is paramount. The energy spent on transporting firefighting equipment could instead be conserved for the critical tasks of managing and extinguishing the wildfires. This is where drones come into play.

What if these unmanned aerial vehicles could take over the task of moving equipment?

The potential benefits are significant. Drones can quickly and efficiently carry loads to targeted locations, navigating terrain that might be challenging or dangerous for firefighters. By doing the "heavy lifting," drones could help conserve the energy of fire crews, allowing them to focus on strategic firefighting efforts, potentially reducing the time it takes to control and extinguish the fire. This is not just a matter of convenience; it's a shift towards smarter, safer, and more effective wildfire management.

So, as we look to the future of wildland firefighting, the question isn't just what if drones could assist—it's how we can best integrate this game-changing technology into our current practices to support the brave men and women working tirelessly to keep us safe from wildfires.


DJI FlyCart 30 stands as a heavyweight champion in firefighting logistics.

Boasting a 16km range while fully laden with a 30kg (66lbs) payload. Its precision winching system can lower hoses or supplies with pinpoint accuracy. Built to operate in extreme conditions and an integrated parachute for safety, it represents the pinnacle of drone utility in emergency situations. 

The FlyCart 30 shines with its ability to carry a considerable payload, including up to 30 meters of 2" hose—essential in large-scale fires where water access and time are of the essence. It can also transport vital equipment like the Waterax MARK-3® Portable High-Pressure Fire Pump, renowned for its firefighting efficacy.

Based on external research, we estimate how many hoses the FlyCart could theoretically carry per lift. Weight information referenced from Firefighternow:


Hose Diameter Weight (empty) # of hoses per lift Length (feet) 
1.5 inch 17 lbs (per 50 feet) 4.0 200
34 lbs (per 100 feet) 2.0 200
1 ¾ inch 20 lbs (per 50 feet) 3.0 150
40 lbs (per 100 feet) 1.0 100
2 inch 23 lbs (per 50 feet) 3.0 150
46 lbs (per 100 feet) 1.0 100
2.5 inch 27 lbs (per 50 feet) 2.0 100
54 lbs (per 100 feet) 1.0 100
4 inch 40 lbs (per 50 feet) 1.0 50
80 lbs (per 100 feet) -
5 inch 55 lbs (per 50 feet) 1.0 50
110 lbs (per 100 feet) -


The FlyCart has an approximate flight time of 18 minutes carrying a full 30kg payload. If we allocated a conservative 3 minutes to transport and winch down a 2" 50' length hose, every 50 feet, and flying back to pick up more hose bundles the Flycart could theoretically drop 300' worth of hoses per flight. 


Flight Time 18 minutes
Hose Weight (per hose) 23 pounds
Hose Length (per hose) 50 feet
Winching Cycle Time (per hose) 3 minutes
Total Cycles (in 18 minutes) 6 cycles
Total Length of Hose Dropped 300 feet (6 cycles x 50 feet per hose)


Now 300' may not sound significant, but eliminating the laborous task for crews to hand carry a bundles of hoses can help reduce the exertion and fatigue, especially when they are treching through mountainous terrain. Crews can focus on pulling and connecting the hoses at each length.

The operational flow with these drones is streamlined and efficient. A drone operator, stationed safely away from the danger zone, can manage the delivery of equipment using either manual control or preplanned flight paths, syncing with ground teams to precisely drop supplies.

However, employing such advanced technology comes with the need for rigorous regulation. A Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) is mandatory, ensuring safe and compliant use of drones in these critical missions. It necessitates meticulous planning and communication, especially when coordinating with other aircraft involved in firefighting operations.



Beyond transporting hoses and pumps, drones like the DJI FlyCart 30 offer a versatile arsenal, capable of delivering an array of lightweight firefighting equipment. This enhances the safety and capability of firefighters on the ground and introduces new tactical possibilities in wildland firefighting.

 As such, the inclusion of delivery drones like the DJI FlyCart 30 in firefighting operations is a monumental step in emergency response. It bolsters the safety and efficacy of crews, improving the odds of preserving lives and property.

With drones taking flight in the realm of firefighting, we're witnessing the dawn of an era where the synergy of technology and courage creates a formidable force against wildfires, igniting hope for safer, more effective firefighting methodologies now and in the future.

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