Safe drone operations start with safe battery transport

151022 - Stories

Field recently held a safety course for all operations and R&D personnel who work with LiPo batteries. The one-day course took place at the Værnes Fire and Rescue Center at Trondheim Airport Værnes, and the theme this year was ‘Fire, First Aid & Safe Battery Transport’.

One of the reasons we were looking to gain knowledge in these specific areas is so that we can gain Federal Aviation Administration approval. There is currently no ‘off the shelf’ course that offers exactly what we were looking to learn, so we had to design our own course. Our first port of call was the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway, who were a great resource in helping us define the syllabus. We also contacted Emil W. Helgesen who is in Fire & Rescue at the airport and also at the local fire department, and were put in touch with Rune Wiggo Johnsen, an expert in battery fires. Rune, Emil and Erik Torp from the CAA were able to help us come up with a solid course outline.

Although we have already been through fire safety and first aid training before, the entire team agreed that it was good to have a refresher. For one, the theory that we covered in the course provided us with a good foundation for assessing the improvements we can make in our command units. It also served as an important reminder of the right mindset to have in an emergency, such as staying calm, and focusing on what needs to be done. Hands-on resuscitation training and the use of defibrillation devices was useful – our command units are equipped with them since we work in very remote areas all year round.

No fire safety course is complete without allowing all participants to put out a fire. We also received a demonstration on how the batteries used in our unmanned aircraft will burn in the event of a fire. This was incredibly interesting – fires involving LiPo batteries are extremely intense and can spread fast, and the smoke emitted is toxic. Without proper equipment at hand, it would be better to cordon off the affected area than to try and put out the fire. While we do have LiPo fire extinguishers in our command units, it may not be possible to get to them in time when such fires burn so intensely and rapidly.

We would like to thank the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway, Værnes Fire & Rescue Center, Avinor, Rune Wiggo Johnsen and everyone who took part in the course – it was a very educational and fun experience. We are already looking forward to next year’s gathering!


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