The FDNY utilized cutting-edge technology in the form of a robotic dog to run recon after the collapse of the parking garage on Ann Street last week.
“Great advances in technology, and we’ve used the dog before. This is the first time that we’ve been able to fly inside in a collapse to do this and try to get us some information, again without risking the lives of our firefighters,” said FDNY chief of operations John Esposito.
The robot dog was used along with drones to enter the building and send back video and images of what the interior looked like. The goal was to minimize risk to firefighters by waiting to have them enter until they had a clearer picture of the collapsed areas.
“The great part of that is we’re able to use the technology to get information and reconnaissance without putting our firefighters’ lives and our first responders’ lives at risk,” said Esposito.
Firefighters were on the scene within minutes of the collapse, but while they immediately began searching for potential survivors, fire officials quickly realized the partially collapsed building of bricks, concrete slabs and damaged vehicles was unstable and posed a danger of further collapse.
Firefighters were ordered out and the Dalamatian dog and drones were ordered in.
“This was an extremely dangerous operation for our firefighters,” Esposito said at the press conference on the scene on April 18. “We had firefighters inside the building conducting searches. The building was continuing to collapse. We made the decision to remove all our people from the building.
“Our robotics unit happened to be nearby. They were on scene very quickly. We deployed our robot dog into the building, they were able to give us a video inside, and then we were able to fly our drones inside to conduct an assessment and conduct searches.”
The robo dog was utilized again on April 20 when it helped firefighters locate and extract the only known fatality, general manager Willis Moore. He was killed in the initial collapse while working in his first floor office on the April 18th. Firefighters initially feared it could be quite a few days before they were able to search inside to retrieve his remains. Thanks to the robo dog he was located and his body was able to be removed less than 36 hours after the collapse.