Unmanned Aircraft Systems / Drones

Program Description

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems program at the Illinois Fire Service Institute provides knowledge, skills, and mission confidence to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized Remote Pilots working in public safety roles. This includes personnel from Fire/EMS, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Search & Rescue, and other public safety agencies. Strong emphasis is placed on safe and effective operation in full compliance with Federal Aviation Regulation and other Federal, State, and local statutes. As small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) / “drone” technology continues to develop, many potential applications have been identified, including but not limited to:

Aerial size-up and reconnaissance of incidents such as:

-Hazardous materials releases


-Natural disasters

-Mass casualty incidents

-Large and complex emergency scenes

-Other hazardous situations where sUAS can stand in for a First Responder


Aerial search for:

-Missing persons

-Persons in water

-Lost watercraft/aircraft/vehicles


Delivery/deployment of:

-Flotation devices

-Communication equipment

-Medical equipment

-Rope lines

-Chemical hazard / environmental monitoring equipment

-Other deployable robotic equipment


Overwatch of ground operations


Aerial mapping and three-dimensional scanning for documentation


Community Risk Reduction




Recruitment / Retention


Public Relations



This list of these “use cases” continues to grow. sUAS technology integrates well with many other public safety functions.

Operation of sUAS and other aircraft in the National Airspace System is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. With this support from the FAA, safe and effective public safety unmanned aviation operations can be conducted for the benefit of the public and First Responders alike. The FAA requires commercial Remote Pilots to be qualified, either under 14 CFR Part 107, through approved training under an agency’s FAA Certificate of Authorization, or by the addition of a Remote Pilot certificate/rating to a manned aircraft pilot’s existing FAA certificate(s). All students taking IFSI sUAS courses must obtain an FAA Remote Pilot certificate or FAA-approved equivalent (with up-to-date recurrent knowledge/testing certification as required by FAA) prior to registering for UAS courses.



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