The status quo of firefighting

photo by  CIFOR

photo by CIFOR

With traditional detection systems such as MODIS, false alarms are a constant source of wasted energy, time, and money. Hundreds of responders are often sent into remote places with heavy equipment to find nothing at all—an expensive gamble that could take them far from a rapidly-developing genuine hotspot. Some jurisdictions use ground verification before calling in the troops—with a firefighting squad on standby, a small reconnaissance team may travel well outside cell reception before identifying flames, and from there it’s hours yet before they can return, report, and respond.

This is the status quo: in too many remote and valuable places, your best case scenario from an unconfirmed alert to suppression in the field can easily be 72 hours or more. In this window, fire spreads exponentially—as does operational cost, political risk, social panic, and ecological damage. The smog of wildfires can cause as much as a 3% drop in GDP, and causes unspeakable havoc in industrialized countries.