The Ontario government has taken additional steps to protect people and property during the wildland fire season, including an increase in base funding for emergency forest firefighting by $30.2 million, and ensuring safety measures are in place to protect Ontario's highly trained fire rangers from COVID-19. On May 16, 2020, Ontario is lifting the Restricted Fire Zone (RFZ) designation that was put in place last month across Ontario's fire region. The province will continue to assess fore...
Thanks to Anheuser-Busch, volunteer fire departments who respond to wildland fires can now apply for canned emergency drinking water through the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) for their immediate or upcoming wildfire response needs. Fighting Wildfires The Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program supports volunteer departments across the U.S. fighting wildfires throughout the year by helping provide critical hydration when it is needed most. “We appreciate...
The new Turbo-Spritze 2090 from AWG Fittings has been specially developed for fighting forest and wildland fires. Capable of achieving outstanding water coverage, this highly portable solution is said to be the perfect piece of kit for call-outs. Portable firefighting solution The people tasked with saving lives and protecting valuable assets should be able to rely on their equipment and tools, especially as their own safety often depends on having fully functioning gear. AWG Fittings urges c...
One Los Angeles firefighter made $360,010 in overtime last year, and 18 employees of the department each earned more than $200,000 in overtime pay. In all, more than 90% of LAFD employees received overtime – an average of $27,737. Excessive overtime is an ongoing challenge at many fire departments around the United States, and the situation can often attract the attention of auditors and budget-conscious city managers, who may be concerned, or even suspicious, about the additional costs....
Perimeter Solutions, a global pioneer in the production of fire retardants, foams, and water enhancing gels, along with a wide range of services for managing wildland, industrial, municipal, and military fires, announced the commercialization of PHOS-CHEK® Class A/B foam concentrate, a new fluorine free firefighting foam capable of extinguishing Class A and B fuel fires with a single product. Structural and industrial fires demand swift action and suppression. Too much is at stake with unco...
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has received just shy of a million dollars in Fire Prevention and Safety Grant money from FEMA to develop a free public safety drone compliance program that includes educational training and a searchable knowledgebase that tracks fire service drone programs and usage. Fire departments have rapidly expanded the use of drones as more communities have realized the lifesaving impact that aerial technology can have in response to structural fires, wild...
MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have teamed up again to help volunteer fire departments obtain much-needed gear through MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway. This annual program began in 2012 and has provided 255 sets of gear to 45 departments to date. In 2019, another 13 departments will each receive four new sets of gear. The first 500 applicants also received a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. The first two recipients of the MSA’s 2019 Globe Gear Giveaway are the Aguila (AZ) Volunteer Fire Department and Jacobstown (NJ) Fire Company. Recommended Safety Standards The department is called upon to handle many, if not all, emergencies that arise in the area Aguila Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) is a small, rural department located in the AZ desert. The department is called upon to handle many, if not all, emergencies that arise in the area. It is the only protection for fire suppression, EMS, hazmat, and wildland fires and responds to small aircraft and railroad incidents. The department is also responsible for two smaller surrounding communities with mutual aid approximately an hour away. Four women and nine men make up AVFD’s 13-person crew. However, the department only has 12 sets of gear available – all of which are more than 10 years old and not compliant with recommended safety standards. The department is unable to afford new gear for its members due to budget constraints. Primary Fire Department “Safety is our number one priority,” said Assistant Fire Chief Roger Zdrojewski. “Our volunteers need to be prepared and ready for any hazards that may arise in the district. To do this means decent, safe, and compliant turn-out gear. The addition of 4 new sets will help immensely in keeping our firefighters safe and able to help our community to the best of their ability.” Jacobstown Volunteer Fire Company is the primary fire department in North Hanover Township, NJ. It serves a population of 7,500 people over 17 square miles and responds to approximately 200 calls each year. Recent community outreach has helped the department’s recruitment efforts, and membership is at record-breaking numbers. Responders are currently required to complete Firefighter I to operate as interior firefighter. Highest Level Of Protection This turnout gear will help provide the highest level of protection to our members working on interior fires" The local fire academy recently added Firefighter II, so members are now encouraged to pursue Firefighter II training and certification, which will become a requirement in the near future. Many of its members also cross over between fire and EMS, providing a consistent, high level of service for residents. The company has 35 sets of gear for its 27 firefighters; however, all but three of those sets will be over 10 years old within the coming year and out of compliance according to national standards. “This turnout gear will help provide the highest level of protection to our members working on interior fires,” said Deputy Chief Robert Gancarz. “New members often receive the oldest gear and gear that is not fit specifically to them. While necessary due to budgetary and equipment restraints, this is not best practice. More times than not members continue to use this older and often well-worn gear after training is complete. This period may last years until the budget is able to support new gear purchases.”
The undergrowth fire on the Lydd Ranges is now fully extinguished after three days of firefighting. On July 26, 2019, the emergency phase of the incident led by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) officially came to a close after all firefighting operations were completed. Duty of care has now been handed back to the land owner. Lee Rose, Assistant Director Channel Tunnel and Resilience at KFRS, said: “On behalf of the service and all other agencies that have been involved throughout the incident, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has worked on the site to help us extinguish the fire as soon as physically possible. We would like to thank the local community and anyone living or working near the site for their cooperation over the past three days while firefighters worked to make the scene safe.” Immense efforts to reduce the fire’s impact The service would like to praise the Rapid Relief Team, the Ministry of Defence and local businesses for their support “Our firefighters have worked incredibly hard in tough conditions to tackle the blaze and the efforts our crews went to in order to reduce the impact of the fire has been immense. The pure scale and complexity of the fire, combined with the extreme heatwave this week, meant we also had teams on-site to assist crews and keep them hydrated during firefighting operations. The service would also like to praise the Rapid Relief Team, the Ministry of Defence and a number of local businesses for their support during the incident.” The cause of the fire is yet to be established. So far, this year the service has already attended over 400 fires on grassland areas, and during periods of such hot and dry weather, incidents like these have the potential to become much bigger wildfires. Use of 20 fire engines and vehicles The incident on the Lydd Ranges is one of the largest fires that Kent has had in a number of years. At its height, over 100 firefighters and 20 fire engines were at the scene, along with a variety of other specialist vehicles. Crews worked throughout the three days to extinguish the blaze and dampen down any remaining hotspots. To help KFRS reduce the risk of further wildfires this summer, follow their simple yet vital grass fire prevention tips – which include disposing of any smoking materials safely and only having barbecues in authorized areas.
Firefighters have issued a summer heat safety plea following several incidents cornfields, grass and crop fires in Kent that have been linked to the hot and dry weather the county is currently experiencing. Countering wildfire incidents Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) deals frequently with rural fires, but during periods of hot and dry weather, incidents on grassland have the potential to become much bigger wildfires. Last year (2018), KFRS responded to almost 700 grassfires, and so far, this year the service has already attended over 400 fires on grassland areas. On Tuesday 23 July just before 5pm, KFRS was called to the scene of a large undergrowth fire on the Lydd Ranges. 100 firefighters and 20 fire engines were sent to the scene, along with a variety of other specialist vehicles to tackle the blaze. Fogspike, Hose reel jets & beaters Crews worked through the night to prevent the fire from spreading. Also, on 23 July, firefighters were called to cornfield fires in both Dartford and Charing. The previous day (Monday 22 July) around 25 firefighters were sent to the scene of a crop fire in Challock. Crews used a fogspike, hose reel jets and multiple beaters to extinguish the blaze. Leanne McMahon, Group Manager for Community Safety, said: “With extremely high temperatures predicted for this week, we would like to remind everyone in the community to take extra precautions in order to keep safe and help us prevent further fires that can often occur during a heatwave." For those who smoke, remember it only takes one cigarette to start a wildfire" Fire safety advisory Leanne adds, “For those who smoke, remember it only takes one cigarette to start a wildfire – so please ensure you always fully extinguish smoking materials before safely disposing of them. We also advise you to not have campfires in the countryside and to take any litter or rubbish with you, as reflective cans and glass can easily start a grassfire in the sun.” “If you do discover a fire, move to a safe place and call the fire service on 999 immediately, providing as much detail as you can, including the size of fire, the exact location (including road or property name) and terrain. Never attempt to tackle the fire yourself, as fires can be extremely unpredictable and spread incredibly fast in this heat.” Avoiding fire pits and braziers KFRS is also urging the public to take extra care when using barbecues, fire pits, braziers and chimineas, and to ensure health and wellbeing is a priority in the hot, dry weather. Leanne further stated, “It’s only natural to also want to be outside, enjoying a barbecue with friends, but it’s so important to take real care and manage them carefully. Keep them away from trees, buildings, sheds and shrubs, and always keep a large bucket of water on-hand in case of an emergency.” Use recognized fire-lighters Use only recognized fire-lighters or starter fuel for barbecues, braziers, fire pits, and never leave them unattended" “Use only recognized fire-lighters or starter fuel for barbecues, braziers, fire pits or chimineas, and never leave them unattended. Once you’ve finished with it – ensure it has completely cooled and never put the ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin, since this could easily start a fire. Finally, while many of us can enjoy the summer heat, for some it can leave them extremely vulnerable. "Remember to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated, wear plenty of sunscreen, keep out of the sun between 11:00 and 15:00 and look after those most at risk, such as older people and small children. If you are worried about an older person in the heat, have young children or are pregnant, then let us keep you safe with a free Safe and Well home visit. If you would like to refer someone for a visit, please get in touch here or call our team on 0800 923 7000.”
A program of free CPD seminars focusing on the lessons learnt from frontline operations will run at The Emergency Services Show 2019 at the NEC, Birmingham on 18 and 19 September. The Lessons Learnt Theatre, sponsored by UCLan, will feature case studies of major incidents including the Salisbury nerve agent incident, the recent wildfires on Winter Hill in Lancashire and the Ocado warehouse fire in Hampshire. Experts from across the emergency services community will detail findings from current research to enable best practice in prevention and collaboration. The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, for example, will explain how Scotland has been so successful in dealing with knife crime. Another session entitled ‘Murder is Everyone’s Business’ will cover the criminal investigation into a gang-related murder where multi-agency collaboration led to many successful convictions. Initiative to prevent firefighter fatalities The Lessons Learnt seminars are always a very popular educational aspect of The Emergency Services Show"The Institution of Fire Engineers will present a session on the newly-formed Fire Standards Board: an international initiative to prevent firefighter fatalities; while the Road Rescue Recovery Association will explain how the whole industry is raising awareness of the rising number of serious injuries and fatalities taking place among roadside and rescue workers. It is currently lobbying to implement changes and regulations. Recommendations for improving pre-hospital burn care will be shared by the Katie Piper Foundation and National Fire Chiefs’ Council. “The Lessons Learnt seminars are always a very popular educational aspect of The Emergency Services Show. Our emergency services are facing truly challenging times in terms of austerity, and the types of incidents they are dealing with, so it has never been more important to share learnings with others. We are very grateful to the speakers who are prepared to be so open about the reality of responding, in order to help the whole emergency services community plan and train for the future,” said David Brown, Event Director for The Emergency Services Show. CPD-Accredited seminar theaters Three additional CPD-accredited seminar theaters will cover Emerging Technologies, IT and Health and Wellbeing Three additional CPD-accredited seminar theaters will cover Emerging Technologies, IT and Health and Wellbeing (which will highlight the types of support available to responders dealing with stress, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health conditions). This year’s event also sees the return of the popular College of Paramedic Workshops, and West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service Extrication and First Aid & Trauma Challenges, which aim to develop proficiency levels in all areas of Road Traffic Collision Rescue. Featuring over 450 exhibiting companies The Emergency Services Show exhibition features over 450 exhibiting companies including leading names in vehicles and fleet, communications, technology, medical and fire-fighting equipment, search and rescue, extrication, water rescue, first response, protective clothing and uniforms, public safety, vehicle equipment, training, community safety and station facilities. Live demonstrations and simulated training will take place throughout the indoor and outdoor exhibition areas. In the networking hub of the show, The Collaboration Zone, over 80 emergency services, voluntary groups, charities and NGOs will be sharing details of the support they offer, and visitors can share ideas and best practice with other blue light services.
Anheuser-Busch will deliver approximately 300,000 cans of emergency drinking water to 26 of the country’s volunteer fire departments, in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), to provide critical hydration to first responders in advance of wildfire season. Anheuser-Busch announced the expansion of its 30-year-old emergency drinking water program in April, and has committed to donating one million cans of clean drinking water in support of volunteer fire departments in 2019. “Eighty-three percent of the nation’s fire departments, which protect our communities from hazards of all kinds, are all- or mostly-volunteer,” said Steve Hirsch, Chair of the NVFC. “Funding for needed resources is a constant challenge for many of these departments, making this donation even more important as it directly supports the health and safety of our firefighters and the communities they serve.” Delivering water to vulnerable markets We have utilized our production strengths to can water throughout the year to support communities at a moment's notice"To officially kick off the expanded program, the brewer has worked closely with the NVFC to identify and select some of the most vulnerable markets across the country to receive this initial water delivery to help prepare for the upcoming wildfire season. “As the country faces more natural disasters, like wildfires, preparation plays a major role in ensuring fire departments across the country have the resources they need to protect their friends and neighbors,” said Adam Warrington, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Anheuser-Busch. “In the same way, we have utilized our production strengths to can water throughout the year to support our communities at a moment's notice; these water donations – in advance of wildfire season – will provide critical hydration to help our nation’s volunteer firefighters stand ready for our communities in times of need.” Supporting volunteer departments nationwide The program will also implement a rapid-response approach to support volunteer departments nationwide actively fighting wildfires throughout the year. Starting in June, volunteer fire departments across the U.S. will be able to request Anheuser-Busch emergency drinking water through the NVFC for their immediate or upcoming wildfire response needs. Through their local wholesaler partners, and in connection with the NVFC, Anheuser-Busch will be delivering emergency drinking water to the following volunteer fire departments this week: Arizona: Pinal Rural Fire & Medical District (Mammoth, AZ) Arizona: Hayden Volunteer Fire Department (Hayden, AZ) California: Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Protection District (Twain Harte, CA) California: Suisun City Firefighters Association Inc. (Suisun City, CA) California: Graton Fire Department (Sebastopol, CA) California: Geyserville Volunteer Firefighters Association (Geyserville, CA) Colorado: Southwest Washington County Fire Protection District (Anton, CA) Colorado: Brush Volunteer Fire Department (Brush, CO) Colorado: Hillrose Snyder Volunteer Fire Department (Hillrose, CO) Idaho: Donnelly Rural Fire Protection District (Donnelly, ID) Iowa: Harlan Fire Department (Harlan, IA) Kansas: Girard Fire Department (Girard, KS) Kansas: Linn County Rural Fire Department (Pleasanton, KS) Massachusetts: Carver Fire Department (Carver, MA) Montana: South Kalispell Volunteer Fire Department (Kaispell, MT) Nebraska: Chadron Volunteer Fire Department (Chadron, NE) Nevada: Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department (Lovelock, NV) New Hampshire: Brookline Fire Department (Brookline, NH) Oklahoma: Darwin Volunteer Fire Department (Antlers, OK) Oklahoma: Konawa Volunteer Fire Department (Konawa, OK) Oregon: Ontario Fire & Rescue (Ontario, OR) South Dakota: Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department (Rapid City, SD) Texas: Hallsville Volunteer Fire Department (Hallsville, TX) Texas: Edinburg Fire Department (Edinburg, TX) Washington: Grant County Fire District 3 (Quincy, WA) Wyoming: Goose Valley Fire Department (Sheridan, WY) Providing help during natural disasters Anheuser-Busch has a longstanding tradition of providing emergency drinking water and supplies for disaster relief efforts in partnership with the American Red Cross. Every year, the brewer periodically pauses beer production to can emergency drinking water, to be ready to lend a helping hand during natural disasters and other crises. Since 1988, Anheuser-Busch and their wholesaler partners have provided more than 80 million cans of water to U.S. communities affected by natural disasters nationwide.
FLIR Systems, Inc. announced the FLIR K1 handheld thermal imaging camera (TIC), FLIR’s most affordable TIC for first responder officers and fire investigators. At $599, the K1 detects heat and provides visibility through smoke and in total darkness to enhance situational awareness for use in wildland fire control, search and rescue missions, structure damage evaluation, and investigative work. “FLIR is committed to providing first responders with lifesaving technology and solutions that help them keep their communities safe,” said Jim Cannon, President and CEO of FLIR Systems. “At under $600, the FLIR K1 will allow more emergency service professionals to adopt the power of thermal imaging and ensure a safer mission.” Powered by Lepton thermal microcamera The dual sensor K1 is powered by the Lepton thermal microcamera, FLIR’s smallest and lowest cost thermal camera coreThe dual sensor K1 is powered by the FLIR Lepton thermal microcamera, FLIR’s smallest and lowest cost thermal camera core. The K1 uses FLIR’s patented MSX technology, which extracts high-contrast details from the images taken by an onboard visible light camera and superimposes them onto the thermal images. The K1 simultaneously captures thermal and visible images of a scene and stores up to 10,000 image sets to create post-scene reports, analysis, and evidence. A pistol grip design allows users to view the scene from their line of sight for improved safety and situational awareness. The spot thermometer easily identifies unseen hot and cold spots for instant troubleshooting. Water resistant camera The K1 carries an IP67 rating for water resistance and can withstand a 2-meter drop onto concrete. An integrated, rechargeable battery lasts up to five hours on a single charge, and it also includes a 300-lumen flashlight that lends additional visibility of a scene. The FLIR K1 will be available for purchase this summer and demonstration units are now available for testing. The company will show the K1 at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International in Indianapolis, Indiana from April 11 to 13, 2019 at the FLIR booth #3657.
The wildfire season in 11 Western U.S. states has started out slower than last year, although deadly fires could still develop in the second half of the season, as they did last year. Meanwhile, wildfires in the Arctic have reached new levels, especially in Alaska and Siberia. Wildfires in the West killed 160 people and caused $40 billion in damage in the past two years, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. The trend is toward larger fires burning more acres – especially in years that are warm. This year has presented some relief. Through mid-July, California’s wildfire numbers were down: from 34,957 large fires on 3,554,03 acres in 2018 to 23,378 fires covering 2,371,397 acres in 2019, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. 87 wildfire incidents reported so far In Alaska, a dry spell this year has exacerbated 58 large fires throughout the state, including the Hess Creek Fire The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported 310 significant incidents (consuming at least 10 acres) in 2018, compared to only 87 significant incidents so far this year. The largest has been the Lonoak fire in Monterey. There were 38 wildfires that burned at least 2,000 acres in California in 2018; there have been only four such blazes in California through mid-July 2019. However, five of California’s largest fires last year happened in the second half of the year. In Alaska, a dry spell this year has exacerbated 58 large fires throughout the state, including the Hess Creek Fire, the largest so far in 2019. Effects of wildfires on Artic ice On the international level, the scale of wildfires in Siberia has been unusually high and dangerously close to population centers, and some environmentalists are concerned the soot from the fires can deposit on Arctic ice, speed up its melt rate, disrupt the local ecosystem, and even increase the sea level rise. Some fires are also in remote areas that are difficult to reach. Fires throughout the Arctic – in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska – are producing plumes of smoke visible from space. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has called the Arctic blazes ‘unprecedented’. Fires throughout the Arctic – in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska – are producing plumes of smoke visible from space Arctic fires are not only the result of dry vegetation; in some cases, the underlying peat has caught fire. “The amount of [carbon dioxide] emitted from Arctic circle fires in June 2019 is larger than all the combined CO2 released from Arctic circle fires in the same month from 2010 through 2018,” the WMO says. Forests are more vulnerable during droughts Throughout the Western U.S., higher temperatures correlate well with larger wildfires: The warmest weather years have equated to the most fires. Forests are more vulnerable during droughts, but even a wet winter may not relieve fire risks, according to Climate Central. The moisture can spur growth of grasses and shrubs, which dry out on warmer days and provide additional fuel The moisture can spur growth of grasses and shrubs, which dry out on warmer days and provide additional fuel. Climate Central’s analysis is based on data reported by the U.S. Forest Service covering Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Data shows that many states are struggling to use prescribed burns to reduce fuel for out-of-control blazes, but there is much less federal funding for prescribed burns than for fire suppression, according to Climate Central. Compressed wildfire season expected Looking forward, an active but compressed wildfire season is expected across the West as the southwestern monsoon becomes more active in August. While this will effectively end the season across the Southwest, lightning-induced fire activity is expected to increase elsewhere, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. By October and November, California will reenter the fire season amid concerns of higher-than-average fire potential due to the presence of an abundant crop of fine fuels in the lower to middle elevations.
From students to policymakers, safety professionals at all levels will gather at the NFPA Conference & Expo, June 17-20, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The multi-faceted event will include a technical session addressing standards development, a product and services exhibition, and education sessions about a range of topics, some of them relating to the fire service. The NFPA Technical Meeting, also known as ‘Tech Session,’ is an important element in the standards development process, ensuring that consensus is achieved on proposed changes to NFPA Standards prior to Standards Council review. Education sessions There will be 120-plus education sessions at the Conference & Expo During this meeting, supporters and opponents of certified motions voice their opinions, and qualified NFPA members vote on proposed changes. The three-day Expo, June 17-19, highlights products and services from 350-plus suppliers that are needed to meet and maintain compliance with prevailing codes and standards in the design, construction and operation of buildings and facilities. There will be 120-plus education sessions at the Conference & Expo. Here is a sampling of some of the education sessions related to the fire service. Engaging Local Officials for Wildfire Risk Reduction - Case studies from organizations around the world illustrate the impact of engaging local officials early and effectively to reduce wildfire Integrating Wildfire into Public Education Messaging - The National Fire Protection Association's Wildfire Division will host an interactive conversation about professional development, engaging residents in wildfire risk reduction, and the resources available to help integrate wildfire into public education outreach efforts. Improving Fireground Visibility Using the Internet of Things - A system incorporates cost-effective, lightweight Internet of Things (IoT) devices, an advanced real-time analytics system, and visualization capabilities to enable incident commanders and firefighters to leverage data from the scene in real-time. Enhanced Smoke Alarms and New UL Testing Standard - Research has enhanced technology that can recognize different fire and smoke characteristics created by changes in home design, building techniques, and modern furnishings -- resulting in fewer nuisance alarms. Cancer and Firefighting PPE - The reality is that firefighters are regularly exposed to carcinogen contamination. Considering dermal exposure, inhalation exposure, and off-gassing, how much protection can firefighters expect from their PPE? Wildfire Tactical Support - The UK’s Response to the Record-Breaking 2018 Wildfires. The United Kingdom’s ‘Wildfire Tactical Advisors’ (WTA) model provides valuable lessons on fire department engagement, including experienced fire officers who support the fire incident commanders at wildfire incidents. ROI on Smoke Alarm Installation Programs - Panel members from NFPA and the Red Cross will explore approaches to smoke alarm program evaluation using the Reach, Efficacy, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework to guide discussion. Foam Firefighting Technologies of the Future - Pressurized Instant Foam (Pi Foam) stores the premixed foam solution initially in a calm environment, and then in a pressurized vessel with soluble gas. At the time of the incident, ready-made foam covers the fire without any foam generator. Connected Technologies for Water-Based Fire Protection Systems - Smart Connected Things (SCoT) used in water-based fire protection systems will enable both owners and service providers to determine system status and perform some inspection and testing functions remotely.
There are 200 video cameras keeping watch throughout five Western United States to provide early warning of wildfires. In the near future, the number of cameras will be growing dramatically. Soon there will be more than 1,000 of the cameras in California alone, keeping watch on thousands of acres at risk of destructive events like last year’s deadly Camp and Woolsey wildfires. The ALERTWildfire cameras are installed through a consortium of universities – the University of Nevada, Reno; the University of California, San Diego; and the University of Oregon. Dozens of partners also participate in ALERTWildfire, including the National Forest Service, other government agencies, utilities and other private companies, state and local fire departments, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). “It takes a lot of people, pushing in the same direction, to deploy cameras rapidly,” says Graham Kent, University of Nevada, Reno. “We are connected into the community, which is a positive thing.” Monitoring Fire Behavior The cameras monitor fire behavior until it is contained, enhance situational awareness during evacuationsThe cameras can provide early warning when a fire starts and help firefighters and first responders scale the resources needed to respond. The cameras also monitor fire behavior until it is contained, enhance situational awareness during evacuations, and ensure fires are monitored appropriately through their demise. ALERTWildfire currently uses Axis Q6055-E outdoor-ready pan-tilt-zoom network cameras that provide 1080p HDTV signals, 32x zoom and low-bandwidth compression. (Earlier versions of similar Axis camera models were also installed previously.) The camera’s robust aluminum casing can withstand temperatures up to 140 degrees F, although the cameras are positioned on the top of towers where temperatures from wildfires are not a factor. In addition to cameras, each installation site includes a range of equipment including hard power or solar power (on about a third of installations), both with battery backups. Resilient, hardened microwave/fiber networks carry video signals from the cameras to servers at University of Nevada, Reno, which makes them available on the Internet. Geolinks, an ALERTWildfire partner, provides resilient Internet connectivity to mountaintops throughout the West. Watching Fires On Mobile Devices Dispatchers around the West have access to video from the cameras, and fire management can move the camera views through their iPhones. Firefighters can even watch fires on their mobile devices while they are en-route to a fire. Cameras are located currently in California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. There have been 85 cameras in place for five years or so, and the number of cameras has more than doubled since the beginning of 2019. Firefighters can even watch fires on their mobile devices while they are en-route to a fire The accelerated installation schedule is courtesy of a new policy of using existing infrastructure for cameras rather than creating it from scratch. The large number of cameras on the horizon for California is being funded by utility companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. AI-Enabled Monitoring For Early Warning The public can view the camera feeds and often call 911 to report early warnings of fires, thus providing a kind of crowdsourcing, a fire-warning version of ‘Neighborhood Watch’. In the future, artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to monitor the video feeds to provide early warning. For now, the system is largely used by 911 dispatchers to confirm reports of fires. “Cell phones are so ubiquitous, people call in fires before the AI could react,” says Kent. “We could never beat 911. A model for early detection of wildfires is in operation in San Diego, where San Diego Gas and Electric manages an emergency center that uses sophisticated real-time modeling to predict fire events based on weather conditions, vegetation, etc., tracked on a threat map. The system enables firefighting resources to be deployed quickly at the first hint of fire and thus to avoid a larger, sweeping wildfire event. The system enables firefighting resources to be deployed quickly at the first hint of fire and avoid a larger, sweeping wildfire event “If you can get on top of it quickly enough, it makes all the difference,” says Kent. “In the case of extreme conditions, 10, 20 or 30 minutes can make a big difference.” Other locations are looking to replicate the San Diego model to discover and confirm fires quickly and then reposition assets to respond. Phos-Chek long-term fire retardant, applied by air from a fixed or rotor-wing aircraft, is used to slow or stop the spread of wildland fires. Early Warning Of Other Emergencies Installing more cameras to provide early warning of wildfires is “a grave need in the Western states,” and the system is likely eventually to be deployed in other areas, too. Wildfires can be a challenge in non-Western states such as Florida and Oklahoma, and a similar approach could also be used to provide early warning of other emergencies, such as tornados. “Once we do the West, we will be looking to do the rest of the United States,” says Kent. Currently, the biggest challenge is keeping up with demand. “Our successes have led to a demand to get more cameras out right now,” says Kent. “Funding isn’t the largest issue. The money is there to do it, but we have to be able to scale up quickly, working with partners. It’s a wild ride.” Key words for success of the ALERTWildfire system are “location, location, location” combined with “coverage, coverage, coverage,” says Kent. “We can solve 90 percent of the problem with coverage.”
The Rabun County Fire Services, located in the northeast corner of Georgia, has placed a Lake Assault Boats fireboat into service on Lake Rabun, an 835-acre reservoir with 25 miles of shoreline. The new craft provides fire suppression and emergency response services for homeowners, visitors, and Georgia Power facilities located on the lake. “The combination of hydroelectric plants and a growing number of high-end waterfront single family homes in a region susceptible to wildfires make our on-the-water emergency response capabilities a critical part of our department’s mission,” said Captain John Murray of the Rabun County Fire Services. “The new fireboat has greatly improved our emergency response performance and significantly reduced our ISO rating.” Lake Water For Firefighting Operations The 26-foot craft can quickly transport water into a network of standpipes located along the shoreline – that were furnished by neighborhood homeowners’ associations – to supply lake water for ground-based firefighting operations. Moreover, its deck-mounted monitor enables the craft to conduct direct fire attack. The fireboat is powered via twin 175 hp Mercury outboard engines and features a 1,250-gpm fire pump The fireboat is powered via twin 175 hp Mercury outboard engines and features a 1,250-gpm fire pump driven by a marinized V-6 engine. The TFT Hurricane monitor is rated at 1,250 gpm and there are four discharge ports including one that feeds a 5-inch large diameter hose (LDH). Other features include a 63-inch hydraulically operated bow door capable of transporting ATVs, a swing-out side dive door, and a Davit crane with two access points. Easy To Operate Fireboat The T-top pilothouse is seven-feet long and has an interior clearance height of 76 inches. Its componentry includes a helm station with fire pump and monitor controls, and a 12-inch touchscreen commands a full suite of advanced electronics, including: forward looking infrared (FLIR), sonar with side structure scan, chartplotter, and GPS. “We’ve been blown away by our new fireboat’s performance – it is smooth, agile, quick to plane, and very easy to operate,” added Murray. “Plus, once on the scene, we can be flowing water in a matter of seconds.” Located in a mountainous region in the far northeast corner of Georgia, Rabun County Fire Services protects 361 square miles with a department that includes 200 volunteer firefighters, six paid personnel, 12 volunteer fire stations, 17 engines, 11 tankers, 11 mini pumpers and three fireboats. Each year the department responds to approximately 2,000 calls.
The Kirchdorf Volunteer Fire Brigade's scope of operations brings up many challenges: on the one hand, there are busy traffic routes including motorway tunnels, while on the other, there are many industrial and commercial enterprises, as well as a hospital. The EMEREC information management system is an important tool in keeping track of demanding operations. Wide Range Of Tasks Kirchdorf is equipped with special equipment, such as the ASF respiratory protection vehicle from Rosenbauer At first glance, with just 5,000 inhabitants, the district capital of Kirchdorf in southern Upper Austria exudes a sense of tranquillity. In many respects this may be true - but not for the local fire department and their wide range of tasks. This is because the favorable logistical position at the Pyhrn highway and the Pyhrn railway between the provincial capitals of Linz and Graz brings with it the fact that over 3000 businesses have established themselves along this corridor - including large industrial and commercial enterprises. In addition, the special topographic conditions in the limestone foothills of the Alps make them advantageous for the construction of road tunnels. ASF Respiratory Protection Vehicle The approximately 100 volunteer firefighters of the Kirchdorf brigade are deployed around 250 times each year. The majority of these are technical operations, mainly resulting from traffic accidents. As a hub fire brigade, Kirchdorf is also equipped with special equipment, such as the ASF respiratory protection vehicle from Rosenbauer and a forest fire trailer. If required, these devices can be called up for operations anywhere throughout the district. The EMEREC operations management system already plays an important role in the journey to operation sites and is used primarily as a navigation system. The tracking function also provides the operational leader with information about the current locations of vehicles. Emergency And Fire Protection Plans The Kirchdorf Voluntary Fire Brigade has a useful tool at its disposal with EMEREC Of particular importance is the information provided by EMEREC, even in operations in large commercial and industrial enterprises. The emergency and fire protection plans of the individual facilities can be called up in seconds, providing the fire brigade with all information, plans and pictures relevant to the operation. A special case in this context is the Kirchdorf state hospital, as platoon commander Harald Rachlinger says: "Without appropriate information and planning material, a target-oriented approach in such a large building complex would be very difficult. With EMEREC, all decision-relevant information is available on-site." Another significant advantage: thanks to the central system administration, this data is always current and up-to-date across the various mobile devices. Help For Personnel Involved Whether for traffic accidents in motorway tunnels or firefighting missions in large commercial buildings - the Kirchdorf Voluntary Fire Brigade has a useful tool at its disposal with EMEREC, which is a great help for the personnel involved in these challenging tasks.