They are the new allies of firefighters. The solutions technological multiplied in a few years in France to identify fire risks and guide fire professionals. Designed specifically for the prevention of forest fires, these new technologies combine low energy costs and great accessibility. These solutions are essential today to control the ever-increasing number of forest fires.
Drones to guide firefighters
Drones have developed at breakneck speed among firefighters in France. Quicker to deploy and less expensive than helicopters, reconnaissance drones also have the merit of being less polluting. The latter are used for their many functions: mapping forests, identifying hot spots, providing aerial visibility to firefighters on the ground and prioritizing intervention zones.
More and more French cities are now equipping themselves with drones equipped with thermal cameras to identify and avoid the outbreak of fire. This is the case of the city of Cannes, which relies on the ecological prevention. “This approach is accompanied by concrete measures and actions such as the installation of ‘brush cutter’ donkeys to reduce the risk of the spread of fires, in an ecological and economical way”, affirms David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes and President of the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration. The Landes and Manche forests also used this technology for this year’s devastating fires.
Artificial intelligence to map forests
Artificial intelligence (AI) is now at the service of fire prevention. The data available live allows firefighters to identify dangerous or hard-to-reach areas by taking into account drought factors, propagation speed, terrain typology or wind speed.
The use of interactive maps also allows firefighters to identify heat peaks to anticipate fire outbreaks. The NGO Global Forest Watch, for example, gathers information that can be used by firefighters, such as the type of plantation likely to burn, the latitude or the quality of the air observed. Information that ”helps make more informed decisions about the management and protection of forests for current and future generations”, says the association.
Hot air balloons detecting fire starts
Technology is in full development in the prevention of fires. Last year, the city of Marseille tested for the first time in Europe a tethered balloon, capable of being deployed 24 hours a day. Located at an altitude of 600 meters, the balloon can cover a much larger area of forest than a simple watchtower. The innovation is still being tested, but its effectiveness and sustainability are likely to seduce new barracks in France.
Thermal surveillance cameras to alert firefighters more quickly
For several years, the Landes forest has been under the surveillance of around sixty surveillance cameras. An effective system that allows emergency services to be mobilized in a very short time at the slightest unusual heat peak. The device makes it possible to replace the firefighters who usually watch from watchtowers.
If forest fires have been devastating this year in the south of France due to temperature records, the authorities say that thermal surveillance cameras have made it possible to reduce and prevent forest departures more quickly in the Landes. In 20 years, the burned areas have decreased by 60% in the Landes.