Carlton County Sheriff’s Office receives drone donation
Frandsen Bank and Trust in Cloquet made the gift, which includes a camera that can detect heat signatures that could help with fighting fires or search and rescue operations.
Emergency Management Director Marlyn Halvorson walked up to a whiteboard in the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office and placed his hand there.
When he removed his hand nothing happened on the whiteboard, but on the nearby television, the heat signature from his hand displayed prominently.
Halvorson was demonstrating the infrared camera on the new drone the sheriff’s office received Nov. 25. The drone — valued at more than $10,000 — was a donation from Frandsen Bank & Trust in Cloquet.
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Bank founder Dennis Frandsen “dabbles in drones,” according to Cloquet branch president Mark Lanigan. After a donation to an office near the Twin Cities, Frandsen saw a need in other places. Since that donation, Frandsen’s bank has donated 10 drones to departments around the state — including Carlton County.
“It was a huge success and they immediately put it to work,” Lanigan said. “One of the things that they heard is it’s hard to get funding for stuff like that right now, and so Dennis offered it up to every market that we’re in”.
The CCSO already had a drone, but the camera technology on the Frandsen donation far exceeds what they had before. The drone can help keep Carlton County emergency workers safe when responding to some calls.
“The drone program is able to paint that picture for us, in regards to damage assessment and so forth, without actually putting an individual in harm’s way,” Halvorson said.
Not only will the new drone allow emergency workers to make assessments of damage after a storm — like the flooding event on Sept. 30, 2019 — it will also help with fighting fires.
When smoke is billowing out of a building, firefighters don’t always know where the fire is burning inside. The infrared camera can show the hotspots inside the building, giving the responders a better idea of the most dangerous spots and areas to focus on.
“You can guide an individual to that hotspot without physically putting them in there,” Halvorson said.
The drone will also help with search and rescue operations. The camera can detect drastic changes in a fire, and it is sensitive enough to detect residual body heat, in an office or for someone lost on a trail or extreme rural area.
Carlton County has a 15-person drone team with representatives from the Cloquet Police Department and the Cloquet Area Fire District, members from the CCSO and even the county’s geographic information systems and mapping department.