The cost-effective solution for fire detection
Even if a bush fire has been successfully extinguished or simply left a ruined landscape behind by its progress, the danger of it flaring up again has not yet been averted. In the remnants of trees, accumulations of undergrowth or simply in the ground, fires often leave glowing nests, which can last for a long time in regions affected by droughts. They often lead to renewed inflammation and are therefore a constant danger.
By constant monitoring of the burned areas, especially from the air, attempts are made to detect the glowing nests and to extinguish them as quickly as possible in the event of new fires. Mostly small airplanes and helicopters are used for monitoring. But how are the very large fire zones in Australia, the United States and Canada to be effectively monitored?
Infrared images taken by earth observation satellites are one of the possibilities, but they have their limitations due to insufficient resolution. Larger fires can be detected, but by then it is already too late for quick action. So-called UAVs – unmanned aircraft-like drones – are increasingly being brought into play. Unfortunately, the number available for civil defense agencies is small and the current market prices for UAVs are often very high, but budgets are limited. Certainly, the UAVs are not yet considered capable of replacing the observation skills of an experienced fire-fighting pilot.
However, UAVs are capable of very long flight times and do not require daylight or good visibility conditions. With sensors such as high-resolution cameras, infrared sensors and other reconnaissance equipment whose data is transmitted to the ground station in real time, a small swarm of UAVs can monitor a large area. Flight times of more than 20 hours are no longer a problem. The operating costs are minimal compared to an airplane and especially a helicopter. And above all, crews are not sent on potentially dangerous missions.
However, it is necessary to offer UAVs especially suited for disaster control in large numbers at acceptable prices. After all, these are urgently needed, and only individual experimental missions are of no help to anyone. The technology is proven, and it is time to deploy large numbers for the benefit of fire protection.