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Naperville Fire Department One of the First in the State to Receive Unmanned Aircraft System Usage Authorization

Drone Can Be Utilized During and After Emergency Situations for Public Safety Benefit

Following a lengthy application and training process, the Naperville Fire Department recently received a public safety agency certificate of authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for usage of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Known commonly as a drone, the Fire Department can now fly its UAS anywhere in United States airspace, subject to any restrictions outlined in the COA, to conduct mutual aid operations. The department is one of the first in the state to receive its COA for drone usage.

The Fire Department’s UAS, which it purchased in 2015, can be utilized for a variety of public safety functions, including pre-planning for large buildings, after action review of significant incidents, search and rescue, following natural disasters, water rescues and hazardous materials incidents. The UAS cannot be used for any night or surveillance operations, over any open air gatherings or populated areas, heavily trafficked areas, or for any flight above 400 feet.

“As unmanned aircraft technology advances, we’ve identified several public safety uses of that technology,” Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said. “In challenging scenarios where it may be unsafe or impractical to send people into those situations, we can use our drone to visually identify and evaluate the circumstances of the incident. We can then better mitigate the situation or its recovery.”

Fourteen Fire Department employees were trained in the UAS’s usage by the Illinois State Police. Obtaining the COA included an application, aircraft registration, 20-page presentation, risk assessment, training and FAA on-site approval. The COA is effective through April 21, 2018.


About Naperville: Located 28 miles west of Chicago, Naperville, Ill., is home to approximately 145,000 people. This vibrant, thriving city consistently ranks as a top community in the nation in which to live, raise children and retire. The city is home to acclaimed public and parochial schools, the best public library system in the country, an array of healthcare options and an exceptionally low crime rate. Naperville has ready access to a variety of public transportation, housing and employment options. The city’s diversified employer base features high technology firms, retailers and factories, as well as small and home-based businesses. Residents also enjoy world-class parks, diverse worship options, the opportunity to serve on several City boards and commissions, a thriving downtown shopping and dining area, a renowned outdoor history museum known as Naper Settlement and an active civic community. For more information, please visit our website at www.naperville.il.us.