Missoula Animal Control Center

Fire in summer, discover the ways to fight

August 27, 2013 – 17:09


We asked the experts about how advances in technology can help firefighters against forest fires more complicated because of the winds.

The forest fires occur more often in dangerous what scientists call "extreme fire weather", when conditions are hot, dry and windy.

To better fight this type of fire, researchers are developing computer models to simulate how the wind moves across the landscape.

"We have a good handle on wind patterns, " said Max Moritz, who heads a laboratory of extinction of the research at the University of California, Berkeley.

However, thanks largely to improved modeling software, scientists can predict the movement of the wind in increasingly smaller scales. Whereas cells in the simulations used about half a mile to six miles (one to 10 miles) on a side, which are now much smaller, in some micro-scale models, only a few hundred meters from side .

Taking all the necessary equipment on a fire forestry such as saws or crosscut saws, parachute can be very dangerous. Since planes and pilots required to fly at altitudes low enough so that the load does not look shaken by the winds and fall precisely said Keith Windell, program leader in the USFS Missoula Technology and Development Center Montana.

"So what are we looking at different ways to make precision drops from a greater height so that the plane does not have to fall so down, " said Windell, also a former smoke jumper.

One of the devices being tested Forest Service is a counter that could delay the opening of the parachute to a lower altitude. This would allow the aircraft to fly at 800-1000 feet (244-305 meters) instead of its present altitude of approximately 200-250 feet (61-76 meters).


Thomas Bewley think the drones can play an important role in the suppression of forest fires in the future.

The aircraft drones could be especially useful for fighting fires at night, said Bewley, who leads the coordinated flow control and Robotics Labs at the University of California, San Diego.

"One of the most effective means of combating the fire is at night, when the winds are calmer and can hold more easily, " he said.

This monitoring role is currently filled by piloted aircraft and helicopters, but in places like San Diego (California), safety standards do not allow for manned aircraft by night unless already flown during the day.

Bewley argues that drones equipped with thermal cameras can do the job better and safer.

But the drones are still too expensive. Each machine can cost $ 100, 000 and it would take tens to provide good service.

To reach their full potential, firefighting drones also have to be able to fly and work alongside manned aircraft.

"This is something that has already been done, " said Bewley. In the army "and operate manned and unmanned aircraft over certain areas of interest ... It is really a matter of the ability to command and control in military field settings applying to the fire."

Source: www.nationalgeographic.es

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