Drones vs FOBS


Do you think the more Drones being used on fires will mean less FOBS hiking the line ?


Not anytime soon. Until there is an accurate mapping software added to a drone platform that gets vetted and becomes commonplace, it won’t happen. Plus drones cannot be flown with aircraft. That is another huge discussion all on its own. FOBS as boots on the ground provide the human intel that a drone cannot.(Supression repair needs, fire behavior, lookouts, human repeaters, etc.)


Drones are a viable solution for grabbing SA on an incident. Will they replace all the duties that a FOBS currently is tasked with? no but they can certainly compliment them and with the right sensor payload collect data the human eye cannot detect.

Drones have very accurate mapping software that is already being accepted in wildfire. Check out what the DOI is doing with them on fires.

This is just going to continue to grow. Also the word “Drone” is pretty wide here. We go from a small quad copter like a DJI Mavic flying 400 AGL to a Insitu Scan Eagle that can fly well above the stack of tactical aircraft at 10k AGL with a high resolution sensor.

Drones can and have been flown with aircraft on incidents you just have to manage the airspace.


My hope is that FOBS will become more operational as opposed to just ground truthing. I feel since GIS has become so relied upon the valuable human intel that FOBS can provide is often disregarded. Maybe the use of drones to ground truth can change that.


UAS or Drone operations must be approved with Air Ops and controlled in the airspace by the ATGS.

NWCG Fact Sheet