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Role of technology increasing in wildfire fights

September 16, 2018

In this Sept. 1, 2018, photo, Sean Triplett, the group leader for Geospatial & Resource Information Management at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, poses for a photo in Owyhee, Idaho. Wildland firefighters on the fire line are still the heart and soul of the battle on the raging blazes, but a technology boom is playing an increasing role in the days- or somtimes weeks-long effort to snuff out the flames across the West. (Larry Hyslop/The Daily Free Press via AP)

ELKO, Nev. (AP) — Wildland firefighters are still the heart and soul of the battle against raging blazes, but a technology boom is playing an increasing role in efforts to snuff out flames.

Today’s firefighters count on accurate data from satellites and heat-sensing instruments to chart the size, location and direction of a fire, Sean Triplett, group leader for Geospatial & Resource Information Management at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, told the Elko Daily Free Press

For example, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer uses two satellites that detect active fire and burned areas, then sends geographic information systems on Earth the coordinates of the spots. Firefighters and others have access to this data.

The U.S Forest Service uses two aircrafts fitted with infrared cameras for more precise fire mapping. The aircrafts fly at night and at high attitudes.

The U.S. Forest Service is also experimenting with unmanned aircraft.

Triplett sees a need to improve individual communication between firefighters in the future. Firefighters currently rely on radio technology that only allows verbal communication.

The U.S. Forest Service is exploring using iPads to share photos, data, weather and maps with other firefighters on a fire.

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Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com

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