Surveillance Cameras Help in Stamping Out Wildfires

May 25, 2022
ALERTWildfire, Professional Telecommunications Services, and Axis Communications deploy innovative fire spotting solution.

Wildfires have been spreading across the western United States with increasing speed and intensity for years, devasting millions of acres and destroying thousands of homes and businesses annually. While only about 1% of those wildfires become conflagrations – raging, destructive fires – it’s hard to predict which fires will “blow up” into infernos.

ALERTWildfire -- a consortium of local municipalities, state and federal agencies, utilities, local fire departments and three universities – wanted to improve those odds and began testing how camera technology could help in spotting and stamping out fire ignitions in their infancy before they could burst into full-fledged firestorms.

The organization partnered with Axis Communications and Professional Telecommunications Services (PTS) – a technology integrator and Axis partner – to devise a state-of-the-art monitoring solution to assist firefighters and first responders in detecting and mitigating the spread of wildfires. The solution pinpoints telltale smoke and flareups through a network of high-resolution, pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras installed on mountaintops and fire towers, in forests and in range lands across six western US states. It also includes a social media component that enables the public to participate in spotting and reporting fires.

In recognition of the project’s innovation, ALERTWildfire, Professional Telecommunications Services, and Axis Communications were awarded a Gold Globee in the "Best Deployments and Customer Success of the Year | Security Services" category in the 18th Annual Globee Cyber Security Global Excellence Awards®. The award spotlights cyber security and information technology vendors with advanced, ground-breaking products, solutions, and services that are helping set the bar higher for others in all areas of security and technologies.

The work of ALERTWildfire is extremely gratifying. The system saves lives and protects property.

Following a pilot, and after testing nearly 200 products, ALERTWildfire and PTS chose high-performance AXIS Q60 PTZ Network Cameras because of their superior image quality in all lighting conditions and their ability to withstand the elements, including extreme weather and seismic activity. Notably, the selected camera can detect signs of a wildfire as far as 70 miles away and, through strategic positioning, allow responders to triangulate the exact location of a fire and quickly dispatch emergency services. The system’s social component provides citizens with live views of the cameras through a public website so they can track a fire’s path and see whether evacuation might be eminent. To date, the system has helped to combat more than 2000 fires and prevented dozens of potentially dangerous blazes from burning out of control.

Since the solution’s initial deployment, ALERTWildfire has installed nearly 900 Axis cameras on fire towers, cell towers, and private communications infrastructures across six states: California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. The organization continues to build out their geographic coverage with purchases of 40 to 100 Axis cameras every 1 to 2 months.

“The work of ALERTWildfire is extremely gratifying,” says Dr. Graham Kent, Director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada Reno. “The system saves lives and protects property and the Globee award validates the collaborative work of many people and organizations that have contributed to it.”


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