National forests, state lands, and national parks must manage fires in remote areas using limited resources. While large, frontcountry fires near urban areas are most visible to the public, long-burning, remote fires also require active management and monitoring. Many of these remote areas are hard to access. For managers to make effective, timely management decisions, they need instant, reliable access to information from these backcountry locations.
Wireless Networking Solution
For the past ten years, the Fire Center has deployed temporary and long-term data networks for management and monitoring. By using remotely deployable data networks, land managers can efficiently monitor fire activity and reduce various management costs, such as helicopter flights and personnel actions.
These networks, which combine advanced wireless technology and state-of-the-art surveillance capabilities with data exchange functions, have been deployed in places such as Denali National Park, Lolo National Forest, Lassen National Park, and the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The Center has also consulted with other national forests and international organizations who installed their own systems. The networks are typically deployed with full-motion video functionality, and they can also transmit supplemental voice communication (including VoIP service), and data like photos, maps, and weather. Past networks have included weather sensors to provide supplemental fire weather information. The communication functionality has been used to brief fire crews in remote camps. These examples demonstrate past use, but the networks, which are fully scalable, have many capabilities that fire and land managers can use for planning, monitoring, and decision support
Long-term, semi-permanent installations serve both as a testing ground for equipment and technology and to allow managers to investigate multiple complex uses of the networks. Through a six-year network installation in Denali National Park, the Fire Center has tested equipment to find the most durable technology and demonstrated the many management uses of a wireless data network. Other long-term installations, notably on the Powell Ranger District, Clearwater National Forest, continue to demonstrate the utility of such a network in fire management. Additionally, the Fire Center is tracking cost savings of using the network.These cost saving are most generally realized in helicopter time where the ability to use remote surveillance cameras to monitor a fire results in a decrease in helicopter time, cost, and exposure.
Each year since 2004 the Fire Center has installed a remote monitoring system on a fire incident. Short-term incident-based installations require that the technology be deployed quickly and safely to meet specific needs. Often incidents cross jurisdictional boundaries or are in wilderness, so the network locations are selected to address those requirements. Temporary networks are designed to grow as the fire grows and to be easily removed when the incident ends.
As recognized leaders in remote fire monitoring, the Fire Center continues to work with agency partners to define, develop, and deploy the most operationally sound technologies. The Center works closely with managers to ensure they have the best information and understanding of the application and management of remote wireless systems and how these systems can enhance monitoring, facilitate data transfer, and improve situational awareness in fire management.
Wireless Network Projects:
Remote Data and Communications Network in Denali National Park
Wireless Weather Sensor Networks
Wireless Network Publications: