National Wildfire Coordinating Group

RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS/drones)

RT-130 Decorative banner. Group of photos depicting wildland firefighters performing various duties.

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This module is an overview of the utility of unmanned aircraft systems and the adverse impact of unauthorized use.
Category: Aviation
Core Component(s): Local Topics;
Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned

Estimated Delivery Time: 30 minutes; Video Length: 5:59



Identify the utility of authorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drones)  and the adverse impact of unauthorized use on incidents.

Facilitator Preparation

  • Review the video and module tools.
  • Consider additional activities and discussion questions pertinent to the location and agency.

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Show the video.
  • Present the scenario below and guide students through the questions.
  • Facilitate a small or large group discussion using the scenario and discussion questions.


You and your crew are cutting direct fireline and working with two helicopters on an active fire edge in the wildland urban interface. The helicopters are critical in cooling the fire edge in front of the crew and in holding fireline behind you. As you are checking the wind, you see something small in the air. You think it is an unauthorized drone.

  1. What do you do?
  2. Who do you contact?
  3. What are the priorities?
  4. If the incident grounds aircraft, how will this affect your crew’s hot line construction?
  5. What if a medical emergency occurs that requires the use of a helicopter extrication?
  6. How are authorized UAS being used today on wildfires? What are the benefits of using UAS?
  7. Are you familiar with your agency’s UAS policy/protocol?
  8. Where would you look to find your agency’s UAS policy/protocol?


Additional Video Information

This video is also available as a download. (Size 407 MB)
Download the .srt file for closed captioning (you may need to right click and Save As). For information on how to add closed captioning to a video, see this how-to page.

Note: For Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, right click the word download and select Save Link As; for Internet Explorer (IE), right click and select Save Target As.



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