Photo from Rock Hill Fire Department Facebook page

Rock Hill Fire Department takes to the sky

MONTICELLO, NY — The Rock Hill Fire Department (RHFD) has established a drone response team (DRT) effective March 11. Two RHFD firefighters, Chris Ramirez and Brian Monroe, are certified by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to fly drones. They completed 50 hours of training at the NYS Preparedness Training Center on the use of unmanned aircraft systems in emergency response.

The use of drones in emergency situations will enable incident commanders to assess the scene in a revolutionary way. The ability to quickly put eyes on locations-of-interest will drastically improve operational safety for first responders and the public.

Drones transmit video images and GPS coordinates to responders and commanders, deliver small rescue payloads to victims and can serve as a beacon to guide rescuers. Drones can also identify heat signatures and hazardous materials. They operate with an autonomous grid search that will aide search-and-rescue capabilities, and they provide scene documentation for review, prevention and public education through potential service videos.

The RHFD’s DRT will respond to requests for assistance via the Sullivan County Mutual Aid Plan. Since the FAA requires a licensed pilot present with the DRT, there will be times that the RHFD-DRT will be unavailable due to inadequate staffing. The RHFD plans to increase the number of trained pilots on the team, therefore increasing availability.

For those with questions regarding the program, contact Brian J. Soller at 845/590-1644 or at


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