Australian company develops real-time forest fire mapping system
Part of the holy grail of Wildland firefighter safety
At Wildfire Today, we’ve often advocated for what we call the holy grail of Wildland firefighter safety – making the real-time location of the fire and firefighting resources available to firefighters. against fire. Several fire or resource tracking systems have been demonstrated or used on a small scale by federal land management agencies in the United States. Hundreds, if not thousands, of law enforcement agencies, fire departments and private companies have used tracking systems for years.
An Australian company has developed a system to deliver half of the Holy Grail, the real-time position of a wildfire. FireFlight Technologies, along with CEO Dr. Paul Dare, a longtime volunteer with the South Australian Country Fire Services (CFS), received a $ 100,000 grant to demonstrate its real-time mapping system.
Using infrared thermal sensing equipment on an airplane, it can see through smoke to detect the location of a wildfire.
Below, an excerpt from an article in Cosmos magazine from January 7, 2022:
… “The other live information we get from the camera system is contextual,” says Dare. “We can see things like trees, streams, roads, buildings – even cars. Anyone looking at the map would recognize these characteristics and understand the implications. “
“There are two ways of thinking. First, the leader is back at headquarters with a strategic vision. They can move a dozen fire apparatus from one side of the fire front to the other. It can take hours to complete.
“Then there are the people in the fire trucks. They approach fire in a much more tactical manner. Their decision making will be based on seconds and minutes.
This summer, Dare’s system will quickly deliver updated high-resolution images to a web portal. From there, CFS officers can interpret bushfire behavior to reposition ground crews, deploy bombers, and issue evacuation alerts accordingly.
The technology has already been put to the test. Sensor data was transmitted to defense personnel during the 2019-2020 bushfires on Kangaroo Island. It has also been used in recent forest fires in Montana and California.
“We build and supply our own equipment,” Dare said. “We run a set of equipment and put it in a box that can be bolted to a helicopter or an airplane. We give the pilot a laptop to control it. This way we know everything is going to work.
In the United States, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act required that before September 12, 2019 the five federal land management agencies “… develop coherent protocols and plans for the use of unmanned aircraft systems technologies in forest fires, including for the development of real-time maps of the location forest fires.
Although this technology has proven its worth, real-time mapping appears to be far from being used routinely.
The Dingell Act also required that the five federal land management agencies “jointly develop and operate a tracking system to remotely locate positions of fire resources for use by wildland firefighters, including, at a minimum, all of them. fire resources assigned to federal type 1 forest fires. incident management teams ”, due before March 12, 2021.
The United States Bureau of Land Management has installed hardware for location-based services (LBS) which are now operational on more than 700 fire trucks, crew transports and support vehicles. Vehicle position and usage data is displayed visually through a web portal or mobile device app.
Ten months after being requested by Congress, the US Forest Service has made very little progress on this mandate.
Thanks and a tip of the hat to Gerald.