The FireFlight System
What is the FireFlight system
FireFlight is a new airborne fire mapping system, created by Spatial Scientific in Australia. The system provides real time fire maps, and post fire hotspot maps to fire managers, fire agencies and other relevant stakeholders. The FireFlight system is cheap to deploy and easy to use. It has been operated in the US, Australia and Indonesia during the past two years. FireFlight systems are shipped from Australia and operated by local pilots in fire danger regions worldwide.
How does the FireFlight system work
The FireFlight system uses thermal sensors connected to a GPS and computer, and mounted in light aircraft. The flight management software which ties the system together provides pilot navigation, camera control, data communication and real time image interpretation. Software on our ground-based servers receives the fire maps from the aircraft, combines them with other useful geographic information, and makes the result available on a secure website.
Why is the system designed like this
The traditional approach to fire mapping is to have a small number of high value assets: large aircraft with imaging systems worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our philosophy is different: we believe multiple low cost fire mapping systems, geographically spread over a wide area, can be more effective than a few expensive fire mapping systems with limited geographical coverage. And by having many more systems available, the impact of system or aircraft failures is greatly reduced.
How we operate
Spatial Scientific supplies the FireFlight system as a service rather than a product. We don't sell the hardware and software to end users, but instead we supply the end user (usually fire agencies) with data from the FireFlight system. This means that end users do not have to be in the aviation business; they can focus on the business of fighting fires. Depending on where the fire mapping service is required, we will either operate the system ourselves (if it is close to one of our bases), or we will contract an operator to fly the system in that area. This approach allows us to achieve global reach efficiently and cost-effectively.
Georectified fire maps (GeoTiff, KMZ) are available minutes or even seconds after data acquisition.
Post-fire mapping can take place any time after the fire has passed, to detect any remaining hotspots.
Our system can be flown at any time, day or night. And of course it can see through smoke, which means that we can provide data exactly when it is required.
We are currently looking for new operators of the FireFlight system in fire danger regions worldwide, where we don't already have systems deployed. Operators must meet a strict set of criteria, including having unrestricted access to a suitable aircraft, and a willingness to work closely with local fire agencies.
The most recent test of the FireFlight system took place on the 6th January 2018, over the Sherwood Fire in South Australia. The fire eventually burnt 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) and destroyed six homes. The FireFlight system was on site for almost one and a half hours, acquiring thermal images of the flames through thick Read more about FireFlight tested over Sherwood Fire[…]
As a result of the interest generated by the Aerial Firefighting Conference 2016 held in Adelaide, South Australia, Dr. Paul Dare was invited to speak on Radio Adelaide about the FireFlight fire mapping system. South Australians have a strong interest in fire fighting: the state is subject to serious bushfires every year. The FireFlight aerial Read more about FireFlight featured on Radio Adelaide[…]
The FireFlight aerial fire mapping system will be exhibited at the upcoming Aerial Firefighting Asia Pacific 2016 event to be held in Adelaide, Australia, 5th to 6th September 2016. Full details of the event can be found here. Needless to say, we’re very excited about having the opportunity to present our system at this event, Read more about FireFlight’s attendance at AFF APAC 2016 confirmed[…]
On the 25th May 2016 we undertook post-burn mapping of the Metz Fire. At the time of flying, the fire was effectively blacked out: there was no visible smoke or flames. Even so, our system successfully identified multiple burning hotspots. Read the full report here. (Image via National Parks Service)