The town's Office of Emergency Management has added a new twist to its response capabilities.
A surveillance drone aircraft.
Emergency Management Director Michael Purcaro said the town acquired the drone on Wednesday and has been putting it through trial flights in anticipation of Monday and Tuesday's emergency preparedness drill sponsored by the state.
The Parrot AR Drone Wi-Fi Quadricopter is about the size of a small car tire. It featured high definition cameras on its front and underbelly. A live feed is automatically sent to a computer screen, from which it is controlled. The craft can also be flown via a smart phone app.
The craft can travel 300 meters both vertically and horizontally, Purcaro said. The drone retails for about $300 and with an extra battery and other optional equipment, it can be put into the air for about $400.
Purcaro said he was talking to Economic Development Coordinator Shaun Gately about acquiring more state-of-the-art equipment and Gately coordinated a grant effort with Vernon-based Image Works to pay for it.
Purcaro said the plan is to use the drone to inspect things like homes, tree tops, tall buildings and power lines after storms.
For example, if there is a rooftop fire or a home that has a tree on it, the drone can be flown over the house to assess the damage before anyone climbs on the roof.