From August to November, areas of Western North America brace for fire seasons that grow increasingly more destructive. 2020, in particular, has brought the United States some of the most destructive wildfires seen throughout US history. In California alone, over 4 million acres have been burned in over 9 thousand incidents, claiming 31 lives and over 10 thousand structures. When looking at the totality of fire damage in all of Western North America, this number nearly doubles, with over 8 mill...
Wildfires represent extreme instances of the deadly destructiveness of fire. There seem to be more wildfires every year, and there are certainly larger and more deadly wildfires all over the world than ever before. Wildfires dominate the public perception of the most extreme consequences of fire. This look back at 2020 will highlight some of the articles about wildfires published by TheBigRedGuide.com, with links to the full-length original articles. The wildfire season in 11 Western U.S. stat...
The Lafayette City Police Department and an interagency task force joined a survey firm to deal with extensive damage caused by California wildfires that were raging in August and September. One of these, "the CZU lightning complex fire" caused a massive evacuation before destroying 86,509 acres (35,009 ha) and nearly 1500 structures across four communities and two state parks. To assess the worst-hit areas of this particular fire, a WingtraOne drone was used to collect aerial data used to gene...
Public and firefighter safety is the number one priority at the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) in Missoula, Mont. The Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program there seeks to develop tools and technology that can help protect people and communities before, during, and after wildfires. RMRS develops and delivers innovative science and technology to improve the health and use of the nation’s forests and grasslands. Their scientists put tools and knowledge into the hands of managers who...
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) released the 2020 NWCG Standards for Wildland Fire Position Qualifications (PMS 310-1). NWCG positions enable consistent and uniform performance by personnel mobilized under National Incident Management System - Incident Command System principles (NIMS-ICS). The NWCG Position Catalog provides comprehensive information about each position for which the NWCG establishes qualifications standards. Agency-specific positions, such as those located in th...
For the honor of wildland firefighters who risk it all to protect the forests and natural resources. KIMTEK is proud to introduce the Ford Motor Company Bronco-Filson Wild Fire Vehicle which features the KIMTEK FIRELITE® Fire Rescue skid unit that includes a Darley-Davey Pump, Hannay Reel, and Mercedes Boostlite Forestry Hose. KIMTEK is excited about this collaboration between Ford, Filson and KIMTEK and more excited to see the formation of the Bronco Wild Fund to celebrate wildland f...
Dealing with megatrends is equated time and again with trying to predict the future - one might wish for that often, but only to a very limited extent. Megatrends are nothing more than a summary of developments and currents that have shaped us as a society in many situations in the recent past - economy, politics, technology, culture and many others - and that are slowly but fundamentally changing the world - like this also the fire service world! Blue light organizations The fire brigade trend map 4.0 provides an overview of the most relevant changes and trends that have a direct or indirect influence on fire brigades, their areas of operation, resources and their environment as a whole. In addition, it also gives an outlook on ‘possible’ future scenarios and framework conditions that the fire brigades could be confronted with. As time also brings new knowledge, the content is checked, updated and revised in regular cycles for their value. Well, what has actually changed since the last fire department trend map? As time also brings new knowledge, the content is checked, updated and revised in regular cycles for their value In principle, it can be anticipated that the megatrends connectivity, neo-ecology, mobility and health have noticeably increased in relevance for the fire service sector. Terms such as digitization, Internet of Things or Big Data are inevitably linked to connectivity which in many ways can be found more and more in the context of the blue light organizations and are gaining acceptance there. Essential key factor Access to and seamless processing of vehicle data as well as traffic and infrastructure information for the benefit of the smooth handling of operations, IOT-supported real-time navigation in closed buildings or robotics systems that carry out autonomous missions are just a few examples that show what is already possible with current technology. The ongoing climate crisis and phenomena such as heavy rain events, prolonged periods of heat and devastating forest fires have brought environmental concerns back into the limelight among people and politics. The intensity and frequency with which such weather phenomena occur present the fire brigades with challenges that are difficult to overcome. In this context, prevention and early detection become an essential key factor. The megatrend neo-ecology also deals intensively with sustainable technologies. Accidental electric vehicles The main focus of the health megatrend is people's increasing health awareness Alternative forms of propulsion and energy generation play a major role, which fire brigades will increasingly be confronted with in the future - especially when it comes to dealing with accidental electric vehicles, lithium-ion battery fires, etc. Linked to this is the megatrend of mobility, in which, in addition to the topic of autonomous driving, car sharing and micro mobility, drones, whether as manned air taxis or unmanned, autonomously flying transport units, are gaining in importance. When it comes to security, the General Data Protection Regulation and the topic of cybercrime are particularly important cornerstones that must be considered. But smart homes are also a potential risk when it comes to cybercrime - whether they have positive advantages for their users. The main focus of the health megatrend is people's increasing health awareness. Fire service sector In the fire service sector, this is noticeable, among other things, in that more and more attention is paid to emergency site hygiene, strict black-and-white separation in the event of pollution or the reduction of physical stress is respected. In the future, the monitoring of vital and health parameters, which is now easily possible using conventional fitness watches and straps, can reduce the health risk during strenuous activities. One trend that has been boosted by the current COVID-19 pandemic is new work One trend that has been boosted by the current COVID-19 pandemic is new work. Mobile workplaces and home offices have caused an uproar in the world of work in recent months and are forcing companies to rethink their approach to more flexible working methods. In comparison, the globalization trend is experiencing a slight damper - it is currently being rethought. Essential influencing factors Since the importance of shortened supply chains and regional productions has become apparent in the last few months, regional and local added value in particular is gaining relevance again. Of course, the silver society megatrends, gender shift, knowledge culture, individualization and urbanization continue to have an impact on the fire brigade and its environment, albeit not with the same intensity as those mentioned above. Likewise, in discussions with fire service experts and on the basis of secondary research results, four drivers were defined which should be considered as essential influencing factors for the entire fire service trend landscape, regardless of trend influences. On the one hand, this concerns the speed and dynamism with which trends prevail and new technologies are established, and on the other, migration and politics, which specifies the relevant framework conditions and thus exerts a constant influence on the fire service. If one would like to know what exactly is behind the mega and macro trends, Rosenbauer would like to invite everyone to take a look at the digital Rosenbauer fire department trend map.
With more than two dozen major wildfires as well as over 12,000 emergency incidents, and over 1.1 million acres burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, a thick blanket of smoke continues to hang low in the skies in Northern California. NasalGuard® Airborne Particle Blocker responds to the devastating fires raging across Northern California with the launch of the ‘Breathe Easier Smoke Inhalation Donation’ program. NasalGuard® Airborne Particle Blocker is an ionic particle blocking topical nasal gel that prevents harmful airborne particles from entering the nose. Potential drug interactions The product is drug-free and safe for children, the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, and those concerned about potential drug interactions with other medications. NasalGuard is a unique product that can help people protect themselves from harmful smoke inhalation. To help support Firefighters and their Families in Northern California dealing with the danger of serious smoke inhalation problems, NasalGuard Airborne Particle Blocker ‘Breathe Easier Smoke Inhalation Donation’ program offers relief through donation of their patented airborne particle blocker. Inhalation of airborne particles With the current situation in Northern California and with the pandemic, our goal is to offer some relief" Through the program, NasalGuard is offering free donations to Firefighters and healthcare professionals in Northern California that would like to try NasalGuard gel for themselves, or place of work. "NasalGuard has been proven to reduce the inhalation of airborne particles, including smoke inhalation, virus-sized particles and contaminants, when applied outside the nasal passages prior to exposure," says Ashok Wahi, engineer and co-inventor of NasalGuard. "With the current situation in Northern California and with the pandemic, our goal is to offer some relief," adds Kanika Wahi, engineer and co-inventor of NasalGuard. Oppositely charged particles NasalGuard has donated thousands of units during the pandemic to hospitals, healthcare workers and charitable non-profit organizations. A pin-sized drop of the preventative product is applied around the nostrils and above the upper lip and lasts up to six hours. Patented NasalGuard gel uses a cationic (positively charged) polymer that creates a safe electrostatic field around the nasal passages that traps oppositely charged particles and repels similarly charged particles to reduce inhalation of most harmful airborne particles before they enter one's body. NasalGuard gel provides an electrostatic blocking effect that is effective against a wide spectrum of sub-microscopic indoor and outdoor contaminants including smoke, mold, pollen, pet dander, pollution, and virus-sized particles.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is excited to bring to a new Virtual Classroom to enhance the online learning. The updated classroom provides a more user-friendly experience with updated content, design, and navigation. Trainings feature on-demand and self-paced courses delivered by fire and emergency service subject matter experts. Free course member benefit All Virtual Classroom courses are free for NVFC members. Non-members will pay per course, or they can join the NVFC for just $18 to take advantage of the free course member benefit. Recorded Train Strong webinars are also available through the Virtual Classroom platform at no charge regardless of membership status. Courses cover a wide range of topics of interest to the fire, emergency medical, and rescue services. Categories include grants and funding, leadership, health and wellness, recruitment and retention, safety and equipment, junior firefighter programs, preparedness and prevention, and wildland fire.
DripDrop Hydration, a rehydration therapy company, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the association representing the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services, announces a new partnership to provide dehydration relief to the nation’s volunteer firefighters. The need has never been greater amid a wave of summer heat, wildfire season, and a COVID-19 pandemic that has pushed the healthcare system to the limit of its capacity. DripDrop ORS will provide a one-to-one ‘buy one, give one’ product donation to volunteer fire departments across the U.S. for every 80-count, multi-flavor DripDrop ORS box purchased by consumers. Maintaining proper hydration levels The partnership coincides with the expansion of DripDrop’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) lineup to now include an 80-count, multi-flavor box of berry, lemon, watermelon, and orange flavors. We are proud to partner with the NVFC and provide these brave heroes with DripDrop’s ORS" This product is the latest in DripDrop’s arsenal aimed at combating dehydration, a condition affecting up to 75 percent of the U.S. population at any given time. Volunteer firefighters can request two 80-count multi-flavor packages of DripDrop ORS to use in their department during wildfire response, long incidents, or other strenuous work. Up to 100,000 units of product will be donated. “No one is immune to dehydration and the effects it can have on our bodies, particularly those who work in extreme conditions like firefighters,” said Eduardo Dolhun, MD and founder of DripDrop Hydration. “We are proud to partner with the NVFC and provide these brave heroes with DripDrop’s ORS to help them stay healthy and maintain proper hydration levels, especially as we head into peak wildfire season.” Providing dehydration relief “Firefighters exert an extraordinary amount of energy when responding to long incidents such as wildfires, and dehydration is a very serious threat to their health and safety,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “We are pleased to partner with DripDrop to provide dehydration relief to our volunteer firefighters so they are able to respond at their best.” DripDrop ORS was developed by Dolhun, a Mayo Clinic-trained physician, upon return from a medical relief mission in Guatemala. The patented formula he invented is the most efficacious, great tasting dehydration remedy available to consumers, and an effective alternative to IV therapy for mild to moderate dehydration. DripDrop ORS improves on the World Health Organization (WHO) standard for an ORS with medical-grade electrolytes, making it both the ideal rehydration therapy for the general population and a mission-critical tool for firefighters and other public safety and emergency workers.
In their second year of partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Anheuser-Busch has committed to donating more than 1.5 million cans of emergency drinking water in 2020 to volunteer fire departments across the country as they navigate unprecedented challenges. This month, the first wave of deliveries – totaling more than one million cans – will be delivered to 151 fire departments across 38 states to help ensure local volunteer fire departments have the resources they need to prepare for wildfire season. Emergency drinking water program “We are proud to partner with the National Volunteer Fire Council and deeply appreciate the critical importance of the volunteer fire service – those who selflessly volunteer to protect their communities when they need it most,” said Adam Warrington, vice president of better world at Anheuser-Busch. “Through our emergency drinking water program, we are able to utilize our production and distribution capabilities to provide necessary resources for members of the volunteer fire service. Alongside our wholesaler network, we will also continue to highlight the efforts and sacrifices of our nation’s brave firefighters and raise awareness on the challenges they face.” Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC in April 2019 to expand their disaster relief emergency drinking water program to provide critical hydration to the nation’s volunteer fire service. Corporate social initiatives It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response" Engage for Good awarded the program a 2020 Silver Halo Award in the disaster prevention/relief category in recognition of the difference the program makes in the health and safety of firefighters. The Halo Awards are North America’s highest honor for corporate social initiatives and cause marketing. Warrington and NVFC CEO Heather Schafer were recently featured on Engage for Good’s Cause Talk Radio podcast to discuss the initiative. “We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support our volunteer boots-on-the-ground responders in fighting our nation’s wildland fires, especially since many volunteer departments often work with limited budgets and resources,” said Steve Hirsch, chair of the NVFC. “It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response. Anheuser-Busch has been an outstanding partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship together through this invaluable program to support our volunteer firefighters’ health and safety.” Commitment to supporting communities Anheuser-Busch has longstanding commitment to supporting communities in times of need by providing emergency drinking water and supplies for relief efforts. Every year, the brewer periodically pauses beer production at their Cartersville, GA, and Fort Collins, CO, facilities to can clean, safe drinking water to be ready to help communities in times of disaster through their partnerships with the American Red Cross and the NVFC. Since 1988, Anheuser-Busch and their wholesaler partners have donated more than 83 million cans of emergency drinking water to communities impacted by natural disasters and other crisis.
Anheuser-Busch and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have been named a 2020 Silver Halo Award winner in the Disaster Prevention/Relief category for the Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program. Keeping firefighters hydrated during long incidents or disasters such as wildfires is a critical need for fire departments, yet many volunteer departments struggle with limited budget and resources. To help departments meet this need, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC in 2019 to create the Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program, which delivered over 1.5 million cans of water to volunteer firefighters across the country and will do so again in 2020. Protecting communities from Wildfires “We are honored to receive this award and for being part of this program that both fills a critical need for volunteer fire departments and highlights the amazing work of our nation’s volunteer firefighters as they protect our communities from wildfires and other disasters,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We are thankful for Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support the health and safety of our boots on the ground volunteer responders through this invaluable program.” “Over the past year, we have been incredibly proud to work with our partners at the National Volunteer Fire Council and many of the heroes across the country who are protecting our communities through the volunteer fire service,” said Adam Warrington, Vice President of Better world at Anheuser-Busch. “Together with our wholesaler partners, we are looking forward to continuing to build on this partnership to raise awareness of the challenges our firefighters face and provide critical resources to those who serve our communities.” Corporate social initiatives Presented by Engage for Good, the Halo Awards are North America’s honor for corporate social initiatives and cause marketing. This marks the 18th year that Engage for Good has honored businesses and nonprofits with Halo Awards for doing well by doing good. “This year’s recipients provide tangible examples of effective and innovative purpose-driven efforts and demonstrate the many ways companies and causes can collaborate to create meaningful business and social returns,” said Engage for Good President David Hessekiel.
As we continue to settle into our new norm brought on by COVID-19, it’s become hard to imagine what the world will look like on the other side. If ever there were a clearer definition of a paradigm shift in the making, it’s this time. Yet, it’s not the only paradigm that has shifted in the last few years. As the climate has continued to change, helping to create more fuel for wildfires, we’re experiencing compounding changes at a global scale. And, the light at the end of the tunnel for COVID-19 might just be another big fire season. Yet, this fire season will be different. New ways to respond Although we’ll almost certainly continue to act as communities, helping each other through the next calamities, what’s clear is that we’re going to require new ways to respond. Knowing what we know now about natural disasters, like fires, floods, and hurricanes, as well as our current experience with a global pandemic, if we’ve learned nothing else it’s that we must begin to design for disaster. Designing for disaster is about planning for the paradigm to shift once again This is not about designing for panic and fear. Rather, designing for disaster is about planning for the paradigm to shift once again. For instance, with the 2020 fire season right around the corner, now is a good time to start taking stock and creating plans for how to deal with it. Unlike the last few fire seasons, this one will be different. According to the “Chief's Letter of Intent for Wildland Fire – 2020”, the US Fire Service will be changing its “fire management options during the COVID-19 pandemic across the board to adjust to this unprecedented challenge.” The objectives laid out in this letter are a reflection of the compounding change we’re seeing, which include “Minimize to the extent feasible COVID-19 exposure and transmission and smoke exposure to firefighters and communities”; “Commit resources only when there is a reasonable expectation of success in protecting life and critical property and infrastructure”; “Encourage innovation and the use of doctrine for local adaptations”; and “Develop methods for broad information sharing given changed conditions”, among others. Planning for uncertainty We must seek to protect lives by developing new ways to work together So, what can we do to plan for this uncertain future? In many ways, the answer is spelled out in this above-mentioned letter. We must seek to protect lives by developing new ways to work together, share information, and plan using innovative tools and methods. Just as we all collectively found Zoom as a great way to connect with our friends, family, and colleagues, during the COVID-19 shelter in place, we’ll begin to use other digital tools to get updates and communicate with emergency responders and the community at large. In fact, there are myriad tools in place, like Nextdoor, Neighbor, and even Facebook, that enable most of us to do this on a regular basis. Likewise, when it comes to planning and communication between first responders, whether they be firefighters, police, paramedics, or emergency management officials, new technologies abound, like Tablet Command, that enable first responders to connect and understand the common operational picture like never before. What’s more, as these technologies continue to scale, they will no doubt connect communities and emergency management personnel (as well as new data sources, like up-to-the-minute satellite imagery) in new ways that enable engagement and planning to occur way before an incident even occurs. In fact, as the world continues to rally around communicating in new ways, new entrants like Zonehaven, a startup based on San Francisco, are doing just this. Using a familiar Google Maps-style interface and data-driven approach to engage communities and first responders around evacuation planning, defensible space, right-of-way issues and neighborhood exercises, Zonehaven is focused on helping entire communities communicate and respond to disasters, like wildfires, even before the initial spark. Drive for change And it’s not just technology companies that are driving this change. In wildfire-prone communities, like San Mateo County, officials are bringing in new technologies, like Zonehaven and others, to “provide access to cutting-edge technology that allows emergency planners and local officials to better understand a community’s risk and help residents plan safe evacuation routes.” In essence, by supporting hyperlocal pre-planning, early detection, community collaboration and real-time detection/alerting, San Mateo County is actively redesigning how the county and all of its constituent services, from firefighters to police to emergency management and even parking control, are planning for a future where wildfires and other emergencies are more abundant and communities more engaged and informed. As change continues to compound on itself, creating entirely new norms, it’s imperative that we don’t lose sight of what makes us human. We have the capacity to plan, communicate, innovate, and build tools meant to help us stay one step ahead of change. After all, the more things change, the more they’ll stay the same.
A wealth of data is used to track the course of wildfires and guide an effective firefighting response. Computers crunch the data using software and a computing infrastructure to yield information in the form of wildfire modeling and better situational awareness to guide fire service response. On the front line of turning data into useful information to advance fire science is the WIFIRE Lab at the University of California San Diego. The WIFIRE lab grew out of a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). With a primary goal of enhancing fire science, the lab also impacts operational fire response, increasingly in real time. Complex natural disasters “Wildfires are complex natural disasters that are caused by many changing systems like weather and landscape,” says Ilkay Altintas, Ph.D., WIFIRE Founder and Director. “Ongoing observations using modern technology and analysis of changes using artificial intelligence are helpful to augment fire science and response efforts.” The mission of the WIFIRE Lab is to provide a collaborative and transparent framework to bridge data, artificial intelligence and computing with fire science and its application to practice. “We are envisioning this framework to extend to the modeling and management of disasters beyond fires in the long term, such as floods and smoke plumes," adds Altintas. The mission of the WIFIRE Lab is to provide a collaborative and transparent framework to bridge data, artificial intelligence and computing with fire science and its application to practice Detecting smoke patterns WIFIRE Labs analyzes climate data such as wind speeds and direction provided by utility company weather stations Much of the work at WIFIRE involves automating processes and creating workflows ‘behind the scenes’ to crunch a variety of data, sometimes using supercomputers, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). The resulting ‘data assimilation’ provides valuable tools to advance the science of fire and to facilitate the work of firefighters. Among the goals is to provide ever-faster and more accurate intelligence, even for rapidly moving fires that have previously defied real-time computer analysis. WIFIRE Labs analyzes climate data such as wind speeds and direction provided by utility company weather stations, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Forest service. Conditions such as moisture levels help to predict the course of a fire. Satellite imagery can detect smoke patterns, the hottest areas of fires, which areas are still burning and how they will likely continue to expand. Multiple weather forecasts Guiding WIFIRE Labs’ research is close collaboration with fire departments, including the Los Angeles and Orange County Fire Departments. They provide “Regular feedback about what they want out of the interface,” says Jessica Block, WIFIRE Associate Director for Operational Programs. “It is a direct product of close collaboration with firefighters.” “Being able to monitor our environment requires putting all the data together,” says Block. “Understanding how fires are behaving and changing the environment is important and available to the entire fire community.” A data portal and public interface is called FIREMAP. Fire agencies can request accounts and use the system to run predictive models to help with firefighting. For example, they can project the possible course of a fire based on multiple weather forecasts. Understanding how fires are behaving and changing the environment is important and available to the entire fire community Active fire perimeters The community knows there is a need for additional models to serve the need" FIREMAP is a decision-support and information tool that analyzes and visualizes data and makes it available to decision makers in a format that informs and assists them before, during and after a wildfire event. The map interface can show a variety of information such as active fire perimeters, weather conditions, wind direction, satellite images, local video camera views, surface fuels, etc. The currently used fire model is called FARSITE, but it was not designed for rapidly moving fires. “The community knows there is a need for additional models to serve the need,” says Block. For example, how are fire models different for fires fueled by surface grasses and shrubs versus those fueled in a conifer forest environment? Fire perimeter mapping The Fire Integrated Real-time Intelligence System (FIRIS) Pilot Program seeks to leverage enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to identify early onset fires using fixed wing aircraft equipped with aerial infrared (IR) computerized mapping. WIFIRE Labs is building a system that can enable the AI community to apply its tools to solving fire science problems The program provides better early intelligence, including initial real-time fire perimeter mapping within five minutes of aircraft arrival. Real-time intelligence from such a system is a game-changer. Data from historic fires aid in modeling future events. ‘Educating’ an AI system using historic data helps to inform smarter models for next year’s fires. WIFIRE Labs is building a system that can enable the AI community to apply its tools to solving fire science problems. The program provides better early intelligence, including initial real-time fire perimeter mapping within five minutes of aircraft arrival Advanced systems research For example, how can satellite imagery be used to better understand how vegetation has changed? The payoff from AI and other advanced systems research will likely happen in future fire seasons. Some of the fire systems use supercomputers such as the one at UC San Diego, or even systems in the cloud. However, much of the data is leveraged using everyday desktop computers. “We know how to leverage supercomputers when we need them, and how to take advantage of them,” says Block. “But we don’t use them if we don’t need them, and our systems are available to users and research partners.”
Understanding the underlying causes of wildfires enables us to control them better over the long haul. One element is climate change, which has created conditions prone to wildfires by increasing heat, changing rain and snow patterns, and shifting plant communities. But there are also other contributing factors in the growing scale and intensity of wildfires. One is the condition of the forests in Australia, California, and other areas where the incidence of wildfires has increased. In California, for example, it is well known that the forests are unhealthy and in need of more prescribed burns and other thinning efforts. However, given California’s 33 million acres of forest land, more than half of it publicly owned, even an ambitious effort like addressing the needs of a million acres a year would require decades to fix the problem. managing the landscape We as a society need to decide how we can restore our forests, and start a conversation about what that looks like" “We know that getting our forests back to a healthy state will be the most effective way to cope with fires in the future,” says Jessica Block, Associate Director for Operational Programs at the WIFIRE Lab at the University of California San Diego. “However, massive fires are destroying the ability of forests to recover." The goal is not to stop wildfires but to understand the role of fire as part of the natural processes of managing the landscape. “We as a society need to decide how we can restore our forests, and start a conversation about what that looks like,” adds Block. “We should think of forests as a system we live in, and a system that we should be able to live in. Understanding the system is the goal, so that we can make all the right decisions in the future.” identify and control wildfires Fires are eating up forests that are way too dense and that have way too many standing trees, and state and federal agencies alone cannot solve the problem. Furthermore, the stakes are literally life and death: Thousands will die, whether in the wildfires or from the effects of inhaling smoke. The negative impact on long-term health is impossible to measure. Especially troubling is the impact of wildfires at the so-called wildland-urban interface (WUI), where growing population centers border on wildlands at risk of fire. Current fire models are not designed for these areas, so more work is needed to address these specific risks. Almost everyone agrees that the solution is to identify and control wildfires at early stages before they get out of control and turn into huge fires that impact millions of acres. automatic detection capabilities Today, postings on social media are an early warning sign but may not identify the exact location of a fire New technologies are helping to identify nascent wildfires. One option is the addition of automatic detection capabilities to the AlertWildfire network of cameras that currently keeps watch throughout five Western states to provide early warning of wildfires. So far, human volunteers have been used to track the cameras, but automation is on the horizon. One application of machine learning is to detect a smoke flume. A critical element is the ability to tell the difference between smoke and clouds, which humans can easily differentiate but is difficult to automate. With machine learning, computers should be able to “learn” the difference. Soon, mechanisms will exist to detect the location of a fire via multiple inputs - web cameras, social media and satellite images. Today, postings on social media are an early warning sign but may not identify the exact location of a fire. Working together, the other tools can help to pinpoint the location. Alerts to fire dispatchers must be verified as real to avoid misuse of resources.
It makes perfect sense that a horrific wildfire season would come in the year 2020 on the heels of a pandemic. Dozens of major fires burned across North America in September, including 85 large uncontained fires and six contained fires across 12 states. Active fires have burned more than 3 million acres already, and 41,417 fires have burned almost 5 million acres year-to-date. The severity of the wildfire season is on track to surpass the 10-year average. Better understanding wildfires Global warming is often mentioned as a contributor to the wildfires, but there are other factors, too. Increasingly, researchers are looking to apply new approaches in address the risk of wildfires. They include tools such as deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to better understand wildfires and to control their intensity. The model could be used to reveal areas of greatest risk for wildfires A new deep learning model uses remote sensing and satellite data to trace fuel moisture levels across 12 Western states, in effect tracking the amount of easily burnable plant material and how dry it is. After additional testing is complete, the model could be used to reveal areas of greatest risk for wildfires and to plan the best areas for prescribed burns. Led by a Stanford University ecohydrologist, the research was published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment. Recurrent neural network The model uses data from the U.S. Forest Service’s National Fuel Moisture Database, which amasses plant water content information from thousands of samples. Using a ‘recurrent neural network,’ the system leverages the fuel moisture data to corroborate measurements of visible light and microwave radar signals from spaceborne sensors that are tasked with estimating fuel moisture measurements. Newer satellites with longer wavelengths allow sensitive observations about moisture content deeper into the forest canopy. Estimates from the model are used to generate interactive maps that fire agencies may one day use to identify patterns and prioritize wildfire control estimates. Researchers are also working to analyze the impact of better and more efficient firefighting on the size and frequency of wildfires. The theory goes: When firefighters extinguish smaller vegetation fires, a consequence is the creation of an environment where wildfires are larger and/or more frequent. Natural cycle of regeneration Older woods will naturally catch fire from the sun’s heat to make way for fresh growth The theory is based on the premise that wildfires play an essential role in the periodic regeneration of forests. Older woods will naturally catch fire from the sun’s heat to make way for fresh growth. However, more efficient firefighting can disrupt the natural cycle and, along with global warming, aggravate the broader likelihood of larger and more frequent fires. Researchers at the WiFire Lab in California and the University of Alberta in Canada are using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the environment and provide recommendations for prescribed burns that can save some parts of the forest without interfering with the natural cycle of regeneration. Providing early warning of wildfires Equipment operated by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) caused 2018’s Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California history. Because of the threat of sparking a wildfire, PG&E this year shut off power to 172,000 customers in Northern California on Labor Day weekend, for example. A concern is the threat of winds tearing down power line or hurling debris into them. Southern California Edison (SCE), another utility, warned that about 55,000 customer accounts could lose power. California utilities SCE, PG&E and San Diego Gas and Electric are helping to fund a network of ALERTWildfire video cameras in California that will help to provide early warning of wildfires. Video cameras keep watch throughout five Western United States to provide early warning, and the number of cameras is growing fast.
As Australia takes careful steps to re-open its borders and economy, public safety personnel have continued to serve on the frontline throughout the nation’s lockdown owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic spread. This year has delivered extraordinary challenges for Australia’s public safety agencies, from managing safety and physical distancing in the field, to maintaining interoperable communication across state borders, during the intense pressure of natural disasters, as well as cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. APX NEXT mission-critical P25 public safety radio Motorola Solutions has announced the launch of its next-gen APX NEXT mission-critical P25 public safety radio in Australia Motorola Solutions has announced the launch of its APX NEXT in Australia, a next-generation, mission-critical Project 25 (P25) public safety radio with LTE for enhanced communications and secure, data-centric applications. The smart radios feature ViQi, a first of its kind, public safety virtual assistant that enables users to quickly manage radio controls through simple and intuitive voice commands. The highly rugged smart radio is also built to military standards, is fully submersible and has a touchscreen that can be operated in any weather and while wearing gloves. Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communication Con Balaskas, Motorola Solutions Vice President and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said the purpose-built smart radio from Motorola Solutions is designed to combat the unique challenges posed by Australia’s tough public safety environment. Balaskas said, “Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communication has always been a first responder’s lifeline. That’s never more apparent than when disaster strikes and teams depend on instant, reliable voice communication to safely manage emergency response.” Interoperable access to voice communication “APX NEXT increases both the value and reach of reliable, mission critical communication, providing interoperable access to voice communication as well as essential application services to pinpoint the location of officers in the field, collaborate via multimedia services and help to keep people and communities safe,” Balaskas adds. He further stated, “With first responders facing new challenges including the need to maintain safety and social distancing in the field, ViQi enables them to control the radio hands-free using voice commands. This helps to ensure they can protect their focus on what’s happening around them at all times.” Embedded LTE connectivity The smart radios are one of the newest mission-critical P25 radio offerings in Motorola Solutions’ APX portfolio The smart radios are one of the newest mission-critical P25 radio offerings in Motorola Solutions’ purpose-built APX portfolio. With embedded LTE connectivity, the radio provides a range of application services to increase safety and productivity, with rich data capabilities and extended voice coverage to improve users’ situational awareness in the field. “APX NEXT was created after more than 2,000 hours of extensive field research and testing with numerous law enforcement agencies,” said Scott Mottonen, Motorola Solutions Senior Vice President of Products, adding “In today’s highly challenging public safety environment, we know that first responders need their technology to deliver reliable communication at all times as well as allow them to work with their eyes up and hands free in any situation.” Purpose-built smart radios The purpose-built smart radio designed for emergency services recently won two Good Design Australia Awards, one for the radio’s design and features and another for the APX NEXT Ownership Experience, which provides seamless management and support for the entire fleet of radios deployed into the field. APX NEXT was also named in Fast Company’s Top 10 Product Innovations of 2019. APX NEXT Application Services The new smart radio uses LMR for mission-critical voice communications and LTE broadband to power new application services including: ViQi: With ViQi, first responders can control key features of the radio via voice command. ViQi Virtual Partner, available from 2021, will enable radio users to retrieve information from remote databases. For example, ViQi, run a number plate to retrieve information from back end systems using the smart device’s artificial intelligence capabilities. SmartConnect: APX NEXT detects when it is leaving P25 coverage and automatically switches to LTE broadband, ensuring continuity of PTT voice communications. It then switches back to LMR when the signal returns without the need for user intervention. SmartLocate: An officer’s location data is automatically sent over broadband to a dispatcher’s mapping console, providing dispatchers with up-to-date location information as fast as every 3 seconds. Leveraging broadband to send frequent location updates frees up valuable LMR system resources. SmartMapping: Built on the same platform as CommandCentral Aware, this application service provides precise location information in a map view on the radio’s display. For example, a police officer can see the location of other officers as icons on a map, quickly locate officers in distress and tap on the icons to send alerts or communicate with colleagues via the radio. SmartMessaging: A multimedia communication tool allows users to securely share videos, pictures, texts and voice notes across extended teams. A dispatcher, for example, can send pictures of a suspect to a group of officers in a specific location, or videos can be shared with a group of officers before they arrive at the scene of an incident. SmartProgramming: The radio’s software and configuration data can be rapidly updated over broadband, even when a police officer is using it. This means APX NEXT users spend less time at the station and more time in the field.
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.