Skogsbrand. Bildkälla: Creative Commons
Forest fire. Image Source: Creative Commons View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Drones in the Swedish emergency services

Published: 25 July 2017

The interest in using drones in the emergency services is increasing. The drone technique can be used to search bodies at drowning accidents, forest fires or for overview images in major accidents. Fire engineer Alexandra Olofsson at Luleå University of Technology has examined the legal possibilities for using drones for the emergency services in her thesis "Drones in the Swedish emergency services".

A survey conducted by Alexandra Olofsson in January 2017. The survey was sent to the Swedish rescue services. The result shows that approximately 25 % of the asked rescue services do have or are obtaining a drones to their operation. The survey also showed that the permission requests demand considerable resources and the use of the drones are remarkably limited by the rules. The answering frequency of the survey was 75 %.

Fire engineer Alexandra Olofsson Photo: Richard Renberg
Fire engineer Alexandra Olofsson. Photo: Richard Renberg

"The laws and regulations that are applicated are The Swedish Transport Agency Permission, the National Land Survey, the Swedish law of camera surveillance and the The Swedish Data Protection Authority. This is further complicated by specific states for flying with drones in the dark or out of sight of the pilot", says Alexandra Olofsson.


There are also protective objectsthat could be sensitive for the total defence and other sensitive infrastructure where flying and photography are prohibited. For the emergency services, quick decisions and conditions are required, which currently seems difficult.

"It is no easy task the legislator faces. In addition, technology development is in full swing and we will probably get both bigger and more advanced drones in the near future, "said Alexandra Olofsson.

In short, the conclusion is that the subject is new and still developing.

Michael Försth

Michael Försth, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 491265
Organisation: Structural Engineering, Structural and Fire Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering