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Brunswick Hills fire chief touts usefulness of a drone

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BRUNSWICK HILLS TWP. — Fire Chief Anthony Strazzo said there is value in possibly using drones in emergency situations and sharing the resource with surrounding departments in the county.

The conversation came up Tuesday when Strazzo asked township trustees for approval to send a Brunswick Hills firefighter to a drone course.

“You may be asking why we need Lt. (Charles) Cali in a drone course,” Strazzo said. “I will give you the perfect example. The little boy that was being searched for in Green over the last couple of days, they used several drones … that’s a good example of the use of a drone.”

Police eventually found the missing 2-year-old Summit County boy sleeping in a neighbor’s car. This is just one of the examples that Strazzo discussed during the meeting.

“He’d already done some work for us using his personal drone up at Princess Ledges,” said Strazzo.

Cali used the drone to take aerial footage and map out the area to help create a flight plane.

“If we ever have somebody who is missing in that area, he has already preplotted a flight plan that he hits one button and his drone will fly that flight plan and provide aerial footage and we will know exactly where in the flight plan they are,” Strazzo said.

Cali was also able to use his drone to get above a crash and send pictures to the chief before the department arrived on scene.

Trustees voted 2-1 to send Cali to the free course at the Willoughby Fire Department with Trustee Christina Kusnerak voting against the request.

Strazza said Cali will receive his hourly pay while attending the course.

Strazzo said the drone could also be beneficial in cases where there may be something toxic, such as an accident where a truck may have a leak. It can even be used when there is a fire or to help law enforcement track suspects or to look into the windows of homes or buildings in a SWAT situation.

“The (Medina County Sheriff’s Office) actually already has one of these drones,” Strazzo said.

“I’m meeting with the sheriff next week to talk with him about making this a county or regional team. That seems to be the trend in collaborating with police and fire because there are applications on both sides and the equipment is expensive.”

Strazza said drones can range from $1,000 to $2,000 and can go up to $40,000 or $70,000 depending on options, size and flying capabilities.

“Some are designed to fly in snow and rain while others have to be outside dry with no wind … It’s easier to collaborate when looking at that,” he said.

Contact reporter Alyssa Alfano at (330) 721-4063 or aalfano@medina-gazette.com.
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