Latest reports on new and emerging technologies to improve wildfire response capabilities

In 2021, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Wildfire Management Branch undertook a one-year directed research initiative with FPInnovations’ Wildfire Operations group to assess the efficacy of five different technologies and their utility in the wildfire domain. Five projects were undertaken in this initiative, and are summarized in the following reports (click on a report title to view or download the report):

Exploring the Feasibility and Value of RPAS in the Wildfire Domain (Brandon MacKinnon). Abstract: The Government of Alberta’s Wildfire Management Branch utilizes helicopter and fixed wing aircraft to perform infrared scanning and reconnaissance missions throughout the province. Remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) technology platforms have become cheaper and more effective in terms of payload capacity, sensor packages, and flight times. The Government of Alberta is seeking to find ways to increase operational efficiency and RPAS technology may be able to fill a niche in wildfire management operations.

Ground-Based Water-Enhancer Application for Debris-Pile Burning: A Case Study in the Calgary Forest Area (Razim Refai). Abstract: Debris piles were scattered among a fuel-treated stand at the Jumpingpound Demonstration Forest. The existing trees were deemed as assets worth protecting while the piles were required to be burned. To facilitate the protection of the trees surrounding these debris piles, the Calgary Forest Area requested the use of water-enhancer capable fire engines to protect the trees during debris pile burning.

Use of High-Volume Water Delivery Systems in Peat Fires. A Case Study in Central Alberta (Razim Refai and Rex Hsieh). Abstract: A human-caused wildfire was started on May 6, 2021 in Parkland County, Alberta near the rural community of Tomahawk. Among several Alberta Wildfire resources deployed to the wildfire, one particular resource was high-volume water delivery systems provided by Fire & Flood Emergency Service Ltd. Alberta Wildfire asked FPInnovations to document the implementation of high-volume water delivery systems in actioning a peatland wildfire as a case study.

Use of a Mobile Water Delivery System in Wildfire Operations: A Case Study in Alberta (Rex Hsieh). Abstract: The Trident mobile high-volume water delivery system is self-contained. The main components of the system are two utility vehicles, a 200 hp high-volume pump, and 7000 ft. (2134 m) of 4-in. hose. It can deliver 500 gpm of water at 190 psi in a wildfire operational situation. Alberta Wildfire asked FPInnovations to document three deployments in 2021 to identify opportunities for using the system and to reduce the knowledge gaps around best practices for deployment.

Understanding How Well Current Detection Technology Uses Imagery from Existing Cameras on Towers to Detect Smoke (Rex Hsieh and Greg Baxter). Abstract: Seven vendors participated in a smoke detection exercise conducted in Alberta, Canada from August 23 to 29, 2021. This exercise aimed to understand how well current detection technology uses imagery from existing cameras mounted on towers to detect smoke. All vendors in this exercise use artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms in their systems. Alberta Wildfire expects to gain a better understanding of these detection systems and how they differ from each other.

A report prepared by Razim Refai — Application of Technology and Innovation in Wildland Fire – Summary Report (2021-22) highlights the key outcomes and considerations of all the above projects.

For more information on any of these projects, contact Michael Benson, Manager, Wildfire Operations group.