Technology in the fire service covers far more than computers and software. From personal protective equipment to fire pumps to radio communication systems, firefighting technology advances all work together to improve firefighter safety and effectiveness. How does emerging technology fit in? This interesting news came to us from The Bulletin out of Oregon in their article, “Can artificial intelligence combat wildfires? California county tests new technology.”

Sonoma County, California, is adding artificial intelligence (AI) to its wildfire-fighting arsenal. By entering into an agreement with Alchera to outfit its network of fire-spotting cameras with software that detects wildfire activity and then alerts authorities. The technology searches through images of terrain looking for certain changes, such as flames burning in darkness, or a smoky haze obscuring a tree-lined hillside.

Emergency workers first have to teach the system to differentiate between images that offer similar shapes, i.e. fog vs. clouds, etc. The software will use feedback from humans to refine its algorithm and will eventually be able to detect fires on its own.

Melody K. Smith

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