Wildland firefighters are still the heart and soul of the battle against raging blazes, but a technology boom is playing an increasing role in efforts to snuff out flames.
Today’s firefighters count on accurate data from satellites and heat-sensing instruments to chart the size, location and direction of a fire, Sean Triplett, group leader for Geospatial & Resource Information Management at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, told the Elko Daily Free Press
For example, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer uses two satellites that detect active fire and burned areas, then sends geographic information systems on Earth the coordinates of the spots. Firefighters and others have access to this data.
The US Forest Service uses two aircraft fitted with infrared cameras for more precise fire mapping. The aircraft fly at night and at high altitudes.
The US Forest Service is also experimenting with unmanned aircraft.
Triplett sees a need to improve individual communication between firefighters in the future. Firefighters currently rely on radio technology that only allows verbal communication.
The US Forest Service is exploring using iPads to share photos, data, weather and maps with other firefighters on a fire.