Danbury officials are learning more about the unmanned aerial project the Fire Department is looking to take on. The Department received a donation of $9,000 for the drone project. The donor asked to remain anonymous, and was made in memory of the late Michael Kallas. Kallas passed away in June. He had served as President of the Lions Club, and during that tenure in 2012 the Lions raised funds to replace a broken thermal image camera for the Danbury Fire Department.
Councilman Warren Levy says Kallas was a model citizen, a successful businessman who provided housing for hundreds of people. He volunteered his time to his church and the community.
Anonymous donations are rare on the Council's agenda, but the City does know who this donor is. Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi says he has in the past voted against some anonymous donations because the individual may have applications before land use departments or enforcement actions against them. But he says that's not the case here, there is no conflict. Saadi says they appreciate the efforts of this donor.
Fire Chief TJ Wiedl said they are very appreciative and have privately thanked the donor.
The drone will be able to carry a thermal imaging camera. Wiedl says some departments in the state have used the drones to help put fire out, but Danbury hasn't gotten to that point yet.
Eventually a few people on each crew will have to be trained on how to properly fly the drone. As for repairs if something happens to the drone, it would be on the city to pay for the expense. Danbury will own the drone outright and it will be the first municipally registered drone.
A drone was used during the ice rescue training operation at the Town Park on Tuesday. Wiedl says it's useful because the Department can go back and look at the video after the fact and make improvements. They can use the drone for possible rescues, especially at Tarrywile Park. Wiedl says there are a lot of lost hikers there for some reason.
A drone was also used during the Christmas fire on Main Street. The drone was in the air during almost all of the response. The Fire Department got permission from the air control tower at Danbury Municipal Airport, and the device was flown at about 300 feet in the air.