Drones Privacy Notice

Live steaming, recorded video footage and recorded still images of an individual is classed as personal data, if the individual can be identified from that data.

Why we use a drone

We operate a drone at operational incidents (if the drone is deemed necessary and will add value to our capabilities) for the purpose of operational monitoring and information gathering to assist Incident Commanders with situational awareness.  

We may also use any captured drone footage to aid our fire investigation activities and any health and safety investigation activities, if appropriate.

We may also use a drone for operational training exercises undertaken by our staff and our partners.  

We recognise by operating our drone there is the potential for members of the public to be captured via our drone’s activities. We have a range of controls in place to manage the drone’s use and to reduce the risk of privacy intrusions to members of the public. These include in depth drone operator training, having a range of documents and risk assessments in place that are subject to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval and physical security and IT security controls.

The lawful basis

The Fire and Rescue Service Act 2004 makes it a requirement to secure the provision of the personnel, services and equipment necessary to efficiently deliver a Fire and Rescue Service. 

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016, our lawful basis on which we collect and use information generated by the drone depends on the reason for its use:

  • it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the exercise of our official authority as a Fire and Rescue Service (GDPR Article 6, 1 (e)) to facilitate our operational staff training, operational tactics, efficient/safe use of Fire Service resources and equipment, and Fire Investigation activities (this is also referred to as our ‘public task’ activities)
  • it is our legal obligation to comply with Health and Safety Legislation (GDPR Article 6, 1 (c)) for the investigation of an incident involving the health, safety and welfare of our staff or individuals visiting our premises

Any data captured will only be used for these purposes, unless other legislation means further processing is necessary and lawful.

How we collect and store information

We do not perform covert surveillance via our drone activities.

Our drone will only be operated by trained AF&RS staff. When the drone is in use, appropriate cordons and signage will be displayed to alert anyone in the immediate vicinity we are operating our drone.

All drone activity is recorded in the Drone Flight Path Log.  At present any recorded data from the drone’s activity is saved indefinitely, apart from training activities which may be deleted once any recorded data has served its purpose.

Any data held is downloaded and stored securely on AF&RS equipment and premises, and is processed in accordance with CAA guidance and the Data Protection and associated legislation.

Data Sharing 

Where the law allows, we may share footage with other external parties, such as the police and other law enforcement agencies, our emergency service partners in attendance at incidents and our insurance providers/legal representatives. 

Information Requests for data from external parties 

Decisions about external requests for access or copies of data captured by our drone activities will be carried out on a case by case basis, and the requester has to show a legal reason and their entitlement to access it. 

We will only consider release to law enforcement agencies, third party insurance companies, or official/legal representatives for the data subject concerned (solicitor etc.) who have policies and procedures for the secure handling of personal data. This is because we need to ensure the integrity and security of any data we choose to share with a third party, in accordance with our own policies for data handling, the Information Commissioner (ICO), CAA and Home Office codes of practice.

Information Requests can be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or by writing to the Data Protection Team at the AF&RS HQ address at the bottom of the website page.


Updated 27 April 2021