Skip to Main Content

News Details

Mosaic Co. Awards Drone Grant to Polk Fire Rescue

Published on Nov 30, 2021

Polk Fire Capt. Eric Adams knows firsthand how invaluable the view from a drone camera can be in an emergency response. Afterall, he flew 93 missions last year. This year he’s already logged another 72 missions and the demand isn’t slowing for him, or Capts. Todd Tanner and Jordan Webster.

They are the three-man crew that makes up Polk Fire’s Special Operations drone team. From an aerial view through specialized cameras, they see what crews on the ground can’t with the use of the drone. During the last two years, the current drone has flown more than 44 hours on 221 missions.

Despite modern advancements and the growing population of Polk County, it’s still a largely rural county dominated by cattle ranches, citrus groves and phosphate mining. The vast undeveloped lands make it difficult for Polk County Fire Rescue crews to access and provide life-saving services; however, the expansion of drone technology in recent years is helping to fill that gap.

The Mosaic Co. awarded Polk County Fire Rescue a one-time $40,000 grant to purchase a new drone that would help in assisting rescue personnel in inaccessible rural locations throughout Polk County.

“With the use of drones, rescue crews now have a better operational picture they could not otherwise see with the naked eye, or from a ground-based point of view,” Chief Robert Weech said. “Polk Fire Rescue will use this drone to help locate missing persons, deliver lifesaving resources to a person stranded in a remote area and the use of real-time video to provide enhanced levels of responder and civilian safety.”

Polk Fire has an established drone program that this addition will compliment. Polk’s current drone program began in 2019 and currently conducts various missions for search and rescue, HAZMAT team deployment, major disaster scenes, storm damage assessments and the scenes of various fire responses.

This particular drone will aid in that effort to conduct search and rescue missions with thermal imaging technology, the ability to deliver lifesaving resources to stranded persons (NARCAN, epinephrine auto injectors or asthma inhalers) and provide an aerial view of emergency response.

While Polk Fire’s Special Operations Team is researching different models, no final selection on a drone has been made.

Mosaic’s grant is part of its effort to recognize First Responder’s Day, which honors those who respond to local emergencies in Florida and Louisiana.

“Mosaic employs over 2,800 individuals across the U.S., and whether at home or on the job, their safety and wellness are critical to our shared success,” said Callie Neslund, Mosaic’s director of government and public affairs. “Supporting our local first responders not only ensures they are equipped to respond to our local facilities and offices, but also those who reside in the communities that neighbor our facilities.”

Polk County was one of five agencies that received grant funding in support of local rescue initiatives. The other agencies included the fire rescue departments for the City of Tampa, East Manatee, Hardee County and the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana.