Quad-copter helps minimize danger near grain bin fire

The grain bin fire near Adair, Illinois was dangerous for nearby residents and the men called in to battle the blaze.

More than a dozen agencies from around Illinois were on hand to monitor the potential hazardous situation including the Adams County Emergency Management Agency.

The agency used a new quad-copter to help survey the scene for firefighters.

"The grain bin fire was actually the first application from an emergency response perspective," John Simon, Director the Adams County Emergency Management Agency, said.

"We really didn't expect within a week of receiving the equipment we'd be flying overtop a grain bin fire which provided intelligence to the fire chiefs, on what the structural integrity of what that grain bin looked like," Simon said.

The device allowed responders to stay away from danger and to view the damage above at the same time.

The quad-copter will also be used in other ways as well.

"This gives us one more tool, that we would have to be able to find a missing person, be able to clear a large open field, get a feel of where tree lines are at, where other obstacles may be in a given search area," Simon explained.

He also believes it will help save lives when the time comes.

"I think that this gives us a great tool, if it just saves one life on a find from our search and rescue team, if we can find that person just a little bit quicker having an aerial view, I think that's its obviously paid for itself, it's a great asset to our community, Simon said.

Simon said he consulted with the State Attorney Jon Barnard about the potential legal issues surrounding the use of a commercial drone.

"I know they are controversial, but thinking through the process, someone would have to persuade me that they're not legal," Barnard said.

"What's different about a helicopter flying over? My analysis is personal, but it does come with some training. Legislatively, if they outlaw it, they outlaw it. They have a right to do that. Anyone can fly over my house and there's nothing I can do about it," Barnard said.

Currently, in Illinois there are no laws prohibiting the use of drones however in Missouri there is.

The University of Missouri has an introductory class on drones but was quickly sent a cease and desist order from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013.

The school still has the class but fly indoors.

In March 2014, a judge ruled the FAA does not have the authority to ban commercial drones according to New York Daily News.

The FAA has since appealed the decision but the ban is still in place the Columbia Tribune reports.

New York Daily News also reports the FAA also hopes to revise regulations on drones as well and Congress has given a September 2015 deadline for legislation to be in place.