Kindling Wildfire Solutions with Today’s Technology


The combination of late summer heat plus early fall’s dry conditions saw blazes light up and down California this year. Technology might not be the first tool that comes to mind when considering how best to tackle wildfires, but modern invention has played an increasing part in beating back the blaze.

Before there's an out-of-control burn, technology allows for monitoring and prevention. The U.S. Forest Service has several laboratories around the nation dedicated to tracking climate trends and past burn patterns in order to predict where the next spark might erupt. The San Dimas Technology and Development Center specifically tackles the question of what technological needs the forest service has, and how to improve current equipment in order to meet them.

In a growing effort to mitigate the loss of human life associated with firefighting, the forest service has also started to employ drones in areas where it’s purely too hot for even today’s firesuits to handle. But, technology is tackling the game indirectly, too - literally. VR is currently used to help train smokejumpers – firefighters who are aerially dropped into wildfire locations – how to handle changing conditions, from heat to smoke to even changing wind directions.

To learn more about wildfires, the research around them, and what you can do to pitch in and prevent, check out the U.S. Forest Service’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/kfire/fire-research.


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By Dr. Miceala Shocklee

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