A drone program at the Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The approval from the FAA allows the fire department to use unmanned aircraft — or drones — in the National Airspace System for its search and rescue operations.
The department bought two drones in 2015, and says it was told it is the first station in North Carolina to receive FAA approval this type of program.
Jeff Gearhart, drone program manager for Carova Beach VFD, said Thursday that the drone program will help the department more easily locate fires, assess storm damage and help search for missing persons.
The drones will also afford the department easier visual access to Carova Beach, which Gearhart said could help improve emergency response.