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Scappoose Fire District has been operating an Un-crewed Aircraft System (UAS) since 2015. During this time, we have taken several steps to stand up a public safety aviation program, a first of its kind in Columbia County. Our program is based upon several successful public safety aviation programs, federal government programs and borrowed many components from the military. The core of our aviation program is based upon Safety Management Systems (SMS), Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM), Operational Risk Management (ORM), Crew Resource Management (CRM) and focused on Communication, Coordination and Deconfliction for all of our operations in the National Air Space (NAS) when operating with other UAS and crewed aircraft.


All of our pilots are required to obtain their FAA Part 107 Commercial Drone License. we require an additional 40 hours of training (Basic Remote Pilot In Charge); which is above and beyond Part 107. We also require a comprehensive proficiency based skill assessments. These assessments have been adopted in NFPA 2400 and were developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and ASTM.

sUAS are considered aircraft that weigh more than .55 pounds but less than 55 pounds and are operated remotely or without a human onboard. Our program is required to complete annual reporting to the Oregon Department of Aviation. All our aircraft are registered with the FAA and Oregon Department of Aviation Department. Additionally, our program complies with the applicable portions of ORS 837.300 - 837.399.

Our current fleet consists of several different aircraft. In total we have nine (9) aircraft that we use for training, response and use on federal property or critical infrastructure. We have four (4) training aircraft, and five (5) response aircraft. These include, Autel, DJI, Parrot, Freefly and Flightwave Aerospace. Eight (8) of the aircraft are multi rotors and we have one fixed wing aircraft that has a total flight time of two (2) hours. Three (3) of our aircraft are DIU BLUE certified aircraft. 

Our program, pilots and aircraft support the following operations:

1. Elevated Situational Awareness during structure fire suppression.

2. Wildland Fire Situational Awareness.

2. Fire Investigation.

3. Building Inspections (as part of fire and life safety inspections).

4. Natural Disaster damage assessment.

5. Hazardous Materials Situational Awareness.

6. Search and Rescue.

7. Training (Emergency Medical, Fire, Marine, Technical Rescue and Wildland Fire).

8. Requests for flights from other agencies on a case by case basis.

While this program is in its infancy, the uses are still being realized. In many situations, is is safer and more economical to launch an sUAS than to endanger a firefighter or rent a helicopter.

In 2019, we received a grant from the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) to develop a regional public safety aviation program. Our project scope covers five (5) counties in parts of two states. We represent the Fire / EMS working group as the lead on this project. 

We expect to roll this program out in the third quarter of 2022. This program will allow for any agency that is wanting to start a sUAS program the ability to have all of the foundational policies, operations manual, forms and framework for having a successful program. In addition, we have been granted two Certificate Of Authorization (COA's) from the FAA

to have certain restrictions waived to better support public safety aviation needs. 

In 2022 we received a grant from the Oregon State Fire Marshal, under the hazardous materials grant program to purchase an aircraft specific for mapping of our target hazards. This aircraft has a sensor that created detailed images that are then meshed together to create 2D maps and 3D mesh models that can be used during emergencies. 

In the late spring of 2023, we received additional reprogramming funds through the RDPO to host a regional training for UAS. With the previous grant, we developed a UAS program called ORPIC (Oregon Remote Pilot In Command) course. ORPIC used a federal training program as the foundation and expanded it to include several other categories to make it ORPIC. We were able to train 34 pilots in May 2023. This course was predicated on a wild land course that was developed in a collaborative effort from the Interagency Fire UAS Subcommittee. Member agencies in this group include the US Forest Service, US Department of the Interior (Including several of the Bureaus, BLM, NPS, FWS and BIA), the National Association of State Foresters and International Association of Fire Chiefs. 

In 2023, Scappoose Fire was awarded an aircraft through the Oregon Emergency Management and the SPIRE (State Preparedness Incident Response Equipment) grant program. This program was establish under Oregon House Bill 2687 in 2017.

In 2023, we received a grant through the US Department of Education (With the help of US Senator Jeff Merkley), to create a STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) and workforce development program. Our program works with the local high school in delivering a dual credit program over the course of the school year. When the students complete the year, they earn seven (7) college credits (3 in FP101 or Fire Science, and four (4) in GEO248 or Geo Sciences), their FAA Part 107 commercial pilot license and credentialing through NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and exposure to several different career fields as well as an introduction to GIS, photogrammetry and public safety uses of technology. This grant has allowed us to acquire five (5) aircraft for training and response.

In 2024, we will be a particapant in a NASA research project looking into Advanced Capabilities for Emergency Response Operations.

In addition to the core elements identified above, transparency for our public while using this technology has been a core focus and goal in building this program. 

Regional Public Safety Aviation Program Information

Regional Public Safety Aviation Program (Pre Course Work)

For more information, please contact the Scappoose Fire District.


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