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Smoke Detection Testing

Smoke Detection Testing
Smoke Detection Testing

Location:  Minneapolis, Minnesota
Client:  City of Minneapolis


Every year, the City of Minneapolis tests their sewer systems to spot underground problems. The City uses smoke detection testing to determine if there are any connections between their sanitary and stormwater sewer systems that need to be removed.

The Project

The City sought a safe and efficient way to search the rooftops for smoke exiting homes’ sanitary systems. Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) was contracted to fly an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or a drone, over the homes to take photographs of out-of-sight rooftops to look for any smoke exiting sanitary exhaust vents. By using a drone, City staff didn’t have to risk injury by climbing buildings to manually search for the smoke. This not only avoided safety risks but reduced project time and effort for the City. 

To protect the drone, buildings, and birds in the area, two people coordinated the flight and photography, respectively. A spotter was also on-site to ensure no pedestrians or cars were at risk during the drone’s take-off and landing. Our licensed drone pilot flew the drone along the testing corridors while City staff controlled the camera to look for smoke and take pictures.

If smoke was detected, City staff would take pictures and geo-tag the location of the connection for future repairs. The pictures and locations were wirelessly transferred to the Fulcrum Application for City use.

Our drone pilot spent 29 days in the field for the City, flying over countless blocks and test sites to ensure all connections were accounted for. 

Client Benefits

  • Increased safety for City staff.
  • 29 days of drone survey services.
  • Locations of connections were photographed, geo-tagged for locations, then wirelessly transferred to the Fulcrum Application for future use.