Wildfire Alert: How Firefighters Can Use Technology to Fight the Fire

Although the US is known for its urban sprawl, wildfires have been a persistent threat in some parts of the country for decades. California is on top of the hazard list, with the maximum number of fires and acres burned over the years. The state had its worst season in 2020, with over 9,900 wildfires burning about 4.3 million acres. Texas, North Carolina, and Montana are other high-risk areas close behind California.

Did you know that the country has spent more than $1 billion annually to fight wildfires over the past few decades? Even worse, 1,000 firefighter deaths have occurred in such events since 1910. The numbers are alarming because they spell doom for the public, government, and firefighting departments. The risk continues to grow as climate changes create warmer and drier conditions.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict and prevent wildfires, but technology can be a savior when it comes to fighting fire. Innovative solutions can help firefighters deal with the threat faster and better. Let us highlight a few technologies that can mitigate the impact of wildfires and save lives in the long run.

Safety First for Firefighters

Firefighter safety is the top concern for emergency departments dealing with wildfires because the risk is far higher than incidents in buildings and urban areas. The sheer size of the area to cover makes the situation dangerous. Besides the risks of accidents and injuries, exposure to toxins in firefighting foam is also a reason to worry.

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is no longer considered safe as a fire suppression solution because prolonged exposure can cause cancer. AFF lawsuits are commonplace with the growing awareness about the side effects of PFAs. A firefighter can file a Firefighting Foam Lawsuit against the manufacturer to claim compensation for their chronic illness.

According to TorHoerman Law, victims should assess their situation to understand whether they qualify for a claim. They can get compensation if the medical condition is linked with AFFF exposure, and a lawyer can establish the connection. The firm offers a free consultation to potential clients to give them a clear view and the latest updates on the AFFF legislation.

Fortunately, firefighting departments can switch to toxin-free alternatives, such as no-fluorine foam and dry chemical agents to douse wildfires. Scientists are looking to develop toxic gas sensors to ensure firefighter health and safety by providing early warning against exposure. Emergency departments can embrace these technologies sooner than later to get on top of safety.

Drones and Robots

What if firefighters don’t need to be in the middle of the fire to extinguish it? Technologies like drones and robots can eliminate the need for human responders to enter dangerous areas. For example, manned aircraft cannot get into some high-risk zones during a wildfire. Drones can reach these areas and identify hotspots with thermal imaging sensors and cameras.

Besides drones, firefighting robots can keep humans out of harm’s way. Wildfires are often extremely hot, so human firefighters cannot reach close enough to extinguish them. But a robot can work even in the most extreme conditions without compromising safety.

Satellite Monitoring

Prevention is the best defense against wildfires, and modern technologies like satellite monitoring can make it possible. The Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit (FUEGO) is a project by the University of California Berkeley that employs satellite and drone technologies for wildfire monitoring.

Authorities can detect potential events at early stages and address them before they become major threats. Satellites and bespoke software can also set up system alerts for ground firefighters and air tankers to reach the location and control the fire before it spreads.

IoT Sensors

Another technology that can help emergency responders tackle wildfire threats effectively is the Internet of Things (IoT). It entails the installation of low-powered IoT sensors in wildfire hotspots to detect and measure parameters such as temperature, air pressure, humidity, and CO2 levels.

Sensors gather data and detect anomalies sooner than later. They can quickly issue warnings regarding the possibility of fires in the area. The good thing is that connected devices can run on solar power or minimal battery power, so installation is not a problem.

A Final Word

Firefighting technologies such as early detection and warning systems, remote sensors, and toxin-free fire suppressants are still in the nascent stage. But it is powerful enough to save lives and reduce wildfire damage.  Innovation offers hope for predicting, preventing, and combating disastrous events in the future. Most importantly, it can save the property and lives of firefighters and survivors.

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