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New Drone Program to Aid Multiple Weslaco Departments

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WESLACO – The Weslaco Fire Department said their recently acquired drone will be helpful in emergency situations.

A Weslaco business woman told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she wants her business tax dollars to help keep the city safe. 

“I would like if my tax dollars were used for improvements for the security of the community," she said.

Weslaco Fire Chief and Emergency Manager Antonio Lopez said the city recently launched its drone program.

"We are going to get that eye in the sky. Things that we cannot see, we can maybe see from a different perspective. And by getting that drone program established here in the city of Weslaco, it's going to help us not only with firefighting, with that situational awareness, but also help PD maybe do security inspections of certain facilities that belong to the city," he explained.

Lopez said the city has five licensed pilots. Two from the fire department, one from the police department and others from code enforcement and IT departments.

He explained each pilot had to complete 40 hours of class time before receiving their license through the FAA. 

"When you're getting commands over a radio, and you have to wait for the information to come back from the field, to let you know there location, what they are seeing, what they are fighting, that drone is going to give us that second layer of confirmation from our field back to the command post," he said.

Lopez said the drone they’ll use is a DTI Phantom 4 and cost the city approximately $1,400.

The fire chief also told us that the code enforcement and engineering team will be using the drone for planning and zoning data recovery. That will allow them to recover that data much more quickly and cost affectively. 

Lopez said at the moment all departments will be sharing the drone. The city plans on purchasing a drone for each of the five departments in the future.

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