Technology Used To [Fight Wildfires]

Updated: May 16, 2019

What causes Wildfires?

The five causes behind wildfires: shorter winters, rising temperatures, more pests, drought and fire suppression. The first four are caused by climate change. As climate change occurs, locations become drier and hotter. This is the perfect storm for a wildfire. Out west, the wind carries the wildfire; spreading flames across hundreds of miles, burning for days on end.

California provides the perfect conditions for wildfires to rage-on. For example: Redding, CA experienced 14 days of triple-digit tempts before the Carr fire broke out – the infamous fire that caused a firenado.

How Common are Wildfires?

Since 1970, the likelihood of a wildfire occurring has increased 400 percent. Wildfires are more likely to occur out west, where they are also more likely to burn for longer, causing more damage.

In 2018, there were a total of 55,911 wildfires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

  • Roughly 8.6 million acres were burned in 2018.

  • In 2018, California suffered $400 billion in damage.

  • In 2018, The California Fire Department spent $1 billion to fight wildfires.

Forest Fire

The top 5 states at risk for Wildfires:

1. California is the most-prone to a wildfire, with over 2,044,800 households at risk.

2. Texas

3. Colorado

4. Arizona

5. Idaho

Tech Tools to Fight Wildfires

As climate deniers rage on, technology prevails. As technology advances, our chances of early detection and safer firefighting increase. Here are a few ways technology helps eliminate wildfires:

Drones: Drones can be equipped with specific features, such as thermal imaging, which allows a drone to fly into an area that may be too risky for humans. Drones can cover more area, quicker than humans can. Not to mention, replacing a human life with a drone removes a ton of risk. Without physically being present, Fire Services can monitor a wildfire from afar.

Satellite: Satellites can be used in combination with drones to monitor wild-lands. Satellites allow the monitoring capability, which helps fire fighters to be deployed sooner, giving them a better chance at successfully fighting the flames.

Robots: Meet Thermite, a firefighting robot invented by a company called Howe and Howe, based out of Maine. Wildfires are known to be difficult to fight due to the weather conditions that brew these fires. High temperatures and Westerly-winds make it impossible for firefighters to get near enough to a wildfire to effectively extinguish it. Thermite is a firefighting robot that can handle the temperatures, when humans can’t.

Virtual Reality (VR): The US Forest Service utilizes virtual reality as a training measure to fully-prepare their wild-land firefighters. With full-customization, such as the ability to adjust wind speed or temperature, trainees can prepare to fight flames in a safe, realistic environment. Realistic 3D images create lifelike scenarios.

loT: Low-powered Internet powered things. Satellites are used to relay information from sensors that can be placed in areas at risk of a wildfire. The sensors can measure and report back important information, like the measured level of CO2 in the air or an unusually-high temperature (which may indicate flames).

Even with all of these helpful technologies, wildfires still continue to be a massive issue and can never be fully defeated due to a rapidly-changing climate.


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