Forest Fires


The infrared industry hasn’t kept up with imaging applications to support fire fighting services in the forest or structural fire industry. As a result we have left them literally blind to temperature or using their infrared gear in a very limited capacity. I will provide some examples.

Billions is spent fighting fires blind because of smoke. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, NASA and fire officials launch their advanced thermal imaging of fires. Unfortunately they used a predator aircraft and flew at extreme hights losing valuable information for their fire fighters on the ground. It takes more than the purchase of infrared technology for imaging success, it requires an imaging application used in conjunction with equipment and the right professional interpretation.

If you linked to the information they launched as the most advanced infrared, here is a link to what they missed on the ground by not giving them immediate sight through smoke.INFRARED IMAGE OF INTERFACE FIRE

There are several infrared videos below, select the Forest Fire Video to see incredible but basic fire images.

Giving fire command and administration sight of their objectives so fires can be stopped as quick as possible to save lives and environment. The following links to a video and still images of forest fires. Australians ran for their lives and burned to death with hundreds killed in 2009. The third video shows you how an edited fire inquiry prevented this information from reaching California, Australia and others.

On August 16, 2003, local media was reporting a lightning strike across from Peachland, B.C. They province came in, dealt with it and left. Resources were tight as the fire season throughout the province was 10 times more severe than budgeted for. Our fire budget was 50 million, we spent 500 million on direct costs. The indirect costs would be in the billions. Look at the videos and ask yourself why these images were deleted from a public inquiry into the handling of forest fire in 2003. As a result, fire command is effectively blind in 2009 and 2010 when they hit us again

The Kelowna British Columbia (Okanagan Mountain Park) FireThe Kelowna British Columbia
(Okanagan Mountain Park) Fire

2 thoughts on “Forest Fires

  1. Hi there,

    I have only just come across your website and this post, so am unsure of it’s date of publication.

    I’ve personally been involved with airborne infrared mapping of bushfires in Australia for just on 30 years. We have evolved with technology, but more importantly the techniques utilsed to gather and process the IR image data. We operate at higher altitudes (normally 20-35,000ft) for a number of reasons. At these heights, we gather good resolution image data, but also maximise area coverage in a given flight hour and ensure crew safety in extreme fire cases. The USA having trialed the ‘Ikhana’ drone (Predator) with a multispectral scanner for wildfire mapping, proved that UAV’s are still a long way off being used operationally. Also, at the current time, achieve nothing in the way of cost benefit. The USA I feel still are today limited in the type of fire imagery they produce, so the overall utilisation of the imagery is equally limited.

    The fire authorities still limit the usage of the imagery to internal use, whilst normally providing extracted maps to the public. What I would like to see one day, is the direct feed of usable imagery to the public (and media in certain cases), so all information gathered is available to them. Not just a limited content via the authorities. The key to this however, is imagery that makes common sense to everyone, without the need for specialist interpretation and viewing software.

    In Australia, we can provide this, in a near real-time fashion. An example of this is at


    1. Hello Robert,

      Thanks for this and thanks for your service, it gives us a better idea on how best to assist you. It would actually be pretty straight forward to provide this live for fire command as well as the public. We just did the same thing for medicine here when they asked about seeing Ebola in quarantine.

      My background in infrared started in 1979 and we ended up developing imaging applications for a multitude of industries. I managed an IR company and we trained our first fire department 25 years ago giving unobstructed sight through the smoke plus much more. When it came to forest fires or wild fires they could track the direction of the fire through the smoke giving lead time to fire fighters.

      Last year I got a call on the 19 fire fighters they lost in Arizona when they were overrun by the fire and sadly we sad we could have helped give them sight. In my area we had an interface fire and fire departments and forestry were reporting smoke inhibiting sight or fighting the fire. I was training in the area and literally jumped in front of a police car to initiate one of Canada’s biggest evacuations. Here are still images of that day and unfortunately our Premier edited the images out of a public fire inquiry because it embarrassed the political party.

      When you refer to live imaging, here is one we did for media and it shocked me to see how far embers were flying in front of the fire.

      Here is the domino effect of the edited fire inquiry when another forest fire interfaced across the lake. They wouldn’t let us help and media was already reporting they were worried about the fire jumping the highway. As we watched with students, you could see them water bombing one side of the fire while the fire built on the other side and jumped the highway. Again keep in mind this is a simple example, there is much more that could have been done.

      There are multiple ways you could give sight from the air and ground. Our job and applications were specifically to provide sight to fire command so they can do their jobs. We did some amazing live IR showing water bombers working a fire. You could see the cooler water and fire retardent as it hit the ground from miles away.

      Work safe and let us know if we can advance those programs with you.

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