IDAHO – The USDA Forest Service, along with their interagency partners from the Department of Interior, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, hosted a wildfire technology modernization industry event, commonly referred to as Industry Days, this week at a conference just outside the National Interagency Fire Center.
As part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, the Forest Service and federal fire response agencies are seeking to promote the use of the best available technology to enhance the effective and cost-efficient response to wildfires.
Shawna Legarza, PsyD, Director of Fire and Aviation, opened by highlighting how much firefighting has changed in one generation. Examples include implementation of Lookouts, Communications, Escapes Routes, and Safety Zones, the Incident Response Pocket Guide, the Lessons Learned Center and programs such as Six Minutes for Safety. Emails and smart phones were not at everyone’s finger tips.
Legarza challenged federal fire responders and industry participants to be the leaders for the next innovations for a safe fire response.
The primary focus of Industry Days was to conduct market research for tracking wildland firefighting resources for fire managers. It was designed to develop a common understanding between private industry and the wildland fire organizations of the needs of wildland firefighting and capabilities that private industry can bring as solutions.
More than 40 companies attended to share technology solutions focused on a variety of tracking systems, including for the off-network realities of fire response in remote locations. Additionally, many companies showcased technological solutions that can provide real time intel for a range of data points such as resource locating, mapping updates, and weather changes. These programs provide analysis of these data points into an integrated product to inform fire response in terms of firefighter safety, protection of property, and fire effects that may frame Burned Area Emergency Response efforts.
Federal fire responders will evaluate the information gathered from Industry Days to determine the how to best use technology to account for firefighting resources, improve communications, and create the safest conditions for firefighters in the field.