Wildland firefighting is a dangerous occupation. Without those willing to risk their lives, the damage from wildfires would be insurmountable. Many methods are available to use for fighting wildfires, and recently, thanks to technology, firefighters are also now using these incredibly improved tools. Read on as we share the top five innovations in wildland firefighting.
AI and Machine Learning
Part of suppressing and controlling wildfires is understanding their patterns and predicting future fires and dangers. AI and machine learning are useful tools for finding patterns and algorithms in anything, including wildland fires—which is how it is currently helping the industry. Firefighters are now forecasting future problems and using that information to prevent fires through the massive amounts of data they collect.
Since aircraft are a common use in fighting wildfires, it was only a matter of time before drones became available. Although it’s a common tactic, aerial firefighting is highly dangerous for pilots. They risk smoke inhalation, intense turbulence, and loss of vision from flames and smoke.
As drones step in to take the place or support aerial firefighting, it lessens the concern and need for human pilots. As an unmanned tool, a drone can take pictures, so firefighters can use those to plan their next moves. Drones can also drop incendiary devices that start purposeful fires to block wildfires from spreading.
Wildland firefighters face a lot of dangerous and unpredictable terrain. One thing robots can do is go through that terrain easily, and even better, without a human. Currently, firefighters remotely control the robots; however, researchers are taking steps to use AI to program the robots and send them into a fire without any help from a firefighter.
Another way they help firefighters is by carrying their equipment for them. Firefighters have loads of heavy equipment, but with a robot doing the carrying, it frees up the firefighters to focus on more important tasks.
Virtual reality isn’t in use to fight wildland fires, but it’s in use for training purposes. Using virtual reality, firefighters experience life-like fire simulations so that they can practice their skills. Sometimes, training sessions include real physical elements along with VR. For example, a firefighter might wear a suit that heats up to an intense temperature (up to 200°F) while they practice a firefighting skill in virtual reality.
Unfortunately, network service isn’t the best in a forest, which makes it tough to set up cameras so firefighters can receive pictures of the area. One of the top five innovations in wildland firefighting today is tower-mounted cameras. The cameras can see far and wide and send those photos to those who are trying to prevent and control wildfires.
One type of tower-mounted camera is the pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ), which can identify locations and how a fire is growing, and then relay that information to firefighters.
Technology is improving wildland firefighting, but firefighters are still on the ground. At The Supply Cache, we are proud to support the men and women who protect us by offering the best in wildland fire equipment. We’ve got you covered, from clothing and PPE to tools and equipment. Contact us with all your wildland firefighting needs. We’re here to help.