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  • Writer's pictureTyesha Ferron

Female Drone Pilot Helped Extinguish Notre Dame Fire

Image Credit: Ministère de l'Intérieur

On April 15th, 2019, the world watched, distraught, as the Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire and burned into the night. French firefighters and police worked quickly to save the historic sight and extinguish the flames, and these officials utilized robotics and drone technology to resolve the issue more effectively. Reports state that firefighters were assisted by a red fire extinguisher robot, and the police made use of their drone unit.

Essentially, the fire extinguisher robot served as a reconnaissance bot, scouting ahead to lower the temperature of certain areas and ensure the safety of the firefighters. Controlled remotely, it could also remove heavy debris and obstacles which would normally require the strength of several people.

The drones utilized by the police, suspected to be members of the DJI Mavic line, were operated by a special unit of drone operators in the Parisian Police. In footage of this unit in action, police can be seen analyzing footage of the flames while a female drone pilot operates a controller. The police utilized the drones’ cameras to track the path of the fire and observe its characteristics.

Image Credit: Ministère de l'Intérieur

This valuable information helped the firefighters manage the situation more effectively and was instrumental in suppressing the fire. Photos and Videos of the police footage have already been posted on several social media sites and in internet reports. The use of drones in this predicament is outstanding as we see yet again the practical, humanitarian applications that drones have and their use in society to help the community.

Drone regulation in France is somewhat similar to the regulations in the United States, especially in regards to a situation like this. In many states, it is illegal to fly a drone near an active fire as it may interfere with relief efforts. UAV Coach reported that in France “[d]rones may also not be flown over ongoing fires, accident zones, or around emergency services.” During the fire, the only drones on the site were being operated by public officials and not bystanders.

While it was stressful and heartbreaking to follow these current events, the use of new technology and female representation in important lines of work could be seen as a silver lining. The Parisian police’s drone unit was integral to saving priceless works of art and cultural artifacts, and it was exciting to see that at least one member of this impressive team was a woman. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll get to witness the contributions of more women who drone.


I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron


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