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$85,000 Drones Will Soon Help FDNY Battle Major Fires

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)-- Drones will soon be taking to the skies to help New York City firefighters battle major fires and emergencies.

The New York Times reported Thursday the Fire Department of New York will deploy a drone to 2-alarm fires or greater in the next few weeks.

The unmanned aircraft will deliver video and infrared images to fire commanders. Two more drones will be added by the end of the year.

"That tool for a chief is just night and day from what it was not just 30 years ago when I started, but 15 years ago,'' Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "And moving forward, technology like this is a terrific advantage for us and for fire departments around the country.''

The drone is in painted fire engine red, weighs about eight pounds, and costs $85,000. A dozen firefighters will be trained to work with the drones, which take two people to operate.

The FDNY spent nearly two years of research and planning on the project before they were ready to launch their own drones.

Since three-quarters of the city is classified by federal authorities as restricted airspace, the fire department must still get special clearance from Federal Aviation Administration before sending up a drone those areas.

The FAA said in a statement it would move to approve the requests "as quickly as possible, particularly where lives may be at risk.''

In August, Bergen County became the first county in New Jersey to use drones in law enforcement.

"Usually, the drone comes in handy because you don't have to risk human life," said Bergen County emergency management coordinator Lt. Matthew Tiedemann.

The drones can also be used to search for suspects and victims.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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