Eyes in the sky: Latest technology a ‘game-changer’ in bushfire prevention

Caption: Forestry Corporation Drone Operators Eric Smith (left) and Conan Rossler.Forestry Corporation has enlisted the latest drone technology to better protect NSW’s State forests from bushfires.

Drone technology means Forestry Corporation staff can quickly identify the location and start managing a bushfire before it requires a larger response.

The innovation is a game changer in fire spotting and management, said Forestry Corporation Fire Training and Operations Officer, Adrien Thompson.

“Our trained drone operators can deploy a drone in minutes to get an accurate fire location and start to understand its behaviour,” Mr Thompson said.

“While this makes firefighting more effective, it also means we have fewer people on the ground in dangerous conditions. A drone operator can quickly identify where fires are and send crew directly to the location, rather than having staff drive around trying to locate it.

“We had an example in the Pilliga recently where we launched a drone to locate a bushfire in minutes. Without this flexibility, the fire could have quickly reached a dangerous size and required a larger and expensive response.”

Forestry Corporation is also using satellite technology to quickly identify fire location, said Forestry Corporation Information Officer, Dr Eric Smith.

“We can use drones to take a bearing on a smoke plume, drive a short distance to take another bearing and then use satellite data to precisely calculate the plume’s location,” Dr Smith said.

“We are also looking at mounting thermal cameras to help monitor fire sites and prevent flareups.

“Applying this technology in fire management is incredibly exciting and will help protect our firefighters and forests.”

Forestry Corporation has strict rules about where and when a drone can be deployed in a fire response. A drone can only be deployed at the request of a bushfire incident controller and its use is logged in the operations management system.

Media contact: Rod Campbell 0428058549