Eyes in the Forest
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) in the Amador-El Dorado region recently installed a camera-based fire detection system that can detect and locate fires up to at least 60 miles away, according to recent use.
CDF regional chief Bill Holmes secured grant money to install the system near old lookout towers in 2003 after learning that such systems exist and were in use in South Africa, Greece, Chile, and Canada. He chose the Firehawk fire detection system, which includes a mounted rotating video camera, detection software, and two monitor screens at CDF regional headquarters.
These tools, plus a keyboard, joystick, and necessary cable, cost the CDF $10,000.
The rotating camera automatically analyzes 21 vectors per rotation, and the CDF also can control the camera itself through the joystick and options to zoom in-and-out.
By detecting fires early as well as by confirming or dispelling reports of fires, the Firehawk system has saved more than it cost. Budget cuts in the 1990s eliminated many employed fire lookouts; now Holmes is looking for funds to install more Firehawk systems in his region.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from Government Technology (10/01/06) Vol. 19, No. 10, P. 48; Harris, Chandler.