TPD drone played crucial role in central Toledo factory fire fight

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Toledo's Police and Fire Departments have an excellent working relationship.

When a fire broke out at the Lithium Innovations factory in central Toledo on Thursday TPD didn't just respond to assist with evacuations, they also brought along the department's new drone which is being credited for keeping everyone around the blaze safe.

It was an intense fire and, because of that, firefighters were initially forced to stand back and watch because of the potential danger inside.

That was, until Toledo Police offered to fly their new drone above the warehouse.

"We had our brothers and sisters with TPD bring out that drone and it was crucial in giving us that top side view. Not putting any firefighters in danger - we were extremely pleased with that," said Private Sterling Rahe.

TPD Sgt. William Shaner is one of 6 officers trained to operate the drone and he was tasked with using the new technology for the first time in the field.

That flight not only snapped these pictures, but was also able to take air quality test strips up through the smoke.

The results and pictures gave firefighters a game plan for tackling the flames and allowed TPD to let residents back into their homes.

"It turned out to be very valuable information as far as fighting the fire and what we were able to do as far as bringing people back to their homes and getting a better picture of what we were dealing with. So it was a great use of the drone," said Lt. Joe Heffernan with Toledo Police.

City council approved the purchase of the department's drone back in July.

The price tag for the drone - just under $15 thousand, paid through the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is money police collect during drug seizures and search warrants.

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