Thomas Welle

Technology aids wildland fire detection

Blog Post created by Thomas Welle on Dec 15, 2014

Early detection and aggressive initial attack helps keep wildland fires small, less dangerous, and less costly.  “Safe, aggressive, initial attack” is one of the guiding principles of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.  Over the years, we have searched for smoke with fire lookouts in towers, vehicle patrols and aircraft.  But newer technology is now being applied to wildland fires. Firetower1

Scientists in Nevada are developing and expanding an earthquake detection system using cameras that can also detect wildland fires around Lake Tahoe, California.  With three cameras in place and a fourth to be added soon, the system uses wireless, digital, microwave communication technology.

The plan is to expand the program to 15 stations, which can also obtain weather data.  The total cost of the program is expected to be about $2 million.

And, the system has already been successful.  In August, 2014, the Spooner Fire, on the east shore of Lake Tahoe was detected using this technology and it was contained to a half acre.                    

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown said, “What they have to offer is awesome Hidden-Cove-summerwhen it comes to early detection.”

This is a great example of where science, government, the Fire Service and communities are working towards the goals of Firewise and Fire Adapted.

photo credit: Missouri Dept. of Conservation (firetower) and uniquelynv.com (lake tahoe)

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