Drone Pilot SchoolCanton firefighter becomes photographer, social media guru

July 11, 2021by helo-10

CANTON – When a dispatcher calls in a fire to Canton City Fire Department Station 1, there is a flurry of activity as firefighters gear up and rush to the trucks.

You can often find Canton firefighter Justin Deierling, 38, among them. He has gear to gather up, but not the axes and masks his colleagues are carrying.

Instead, Deierling slips into the command car with a Sony DSLR camera and a Mavic Enterprise drone in a large gray suitcase.

This is not the job he trained for at the academy, nor is it one with a precisely defined title, but it is a job he loves. He’s the department’s fire photographer, drone pilot and social media guru.

Justin Deierling holds the Canton Fire Department's drone, which he uses to film fires and give ladder crews a bird's eye view.

“I like inspiring people”

If there is a major fire in Canton or the surrounding area, you can bet that Deierling will be on the scene to take photos from the ground or pilot a drone hundreds of feet in the air to take videos.

Once he is back at the station, Deierling uploads his work to the department’s Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts.

“I just love telling their story, just preserving memories. People look back at those pictures and remember,” he said. “I like inspiring people.”

Deierling joined the department in 2014 and spent five years doing regular shift work before he was promoted to the command staff where his regular job involves overseeing the maintenance of the department’s buildings.

Canton firefighter/paramedic Justin Deierling accepts the Firefighter of the Year award during the 52nd annual Fire Prevention Week kickoff breakfast in October 2017.

Justin Deierling putting his passions to work for Canton Fire Department

In 2019, another member of the command staff asked Deierling if he wanted to take over the departmental Facebook page, which needed a revamp. He said yes.

At the outset, Fire Chief K. Akbar Bennett, who was serving as the department’s second-in-command when Deierling took over the role, imagined he would increase the frequency of posts and engage more with the public, but Deierling ended up “taking it to a level I had never dreamed.”

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