Demonstration of Hardware for Fire Detection, Monitoring and Suppression
(IFFN No. 13 – July 1995)
At the 1995 meeting of the International Technical Committee for the Prevention and Extinction of Fire (Comité Technique International de Prévention et d’Extinction du Feu – CTIF) in Interlaken, Switzerland, one of the main foci was “Aerial Support for Fire Brigades”.
Fire detection, monitoring and initial attack: Fast fire detection and real-time monitoring of a fire (fire spread, location of hot spots) are crucial for the success of the initial attack on and containment of a wildfire. One of the instruments used for observing the fire scene is the Forward Looking Infra Red scanner (FLIR-2000). Mounted on a helicopter this system can be airborne within half an hour after reporting the fire. From a screen the fire spotter obtains all necessary information on hot spots (including non-visible smoldering fires or flames obscured by smoke), wind direction, results of aerial extinguishant delivery. This information is transmitted by radio to the fire command vehicle, and the information of the fire location is transformed into coordinates and relayed to the ground and helicopter crews. In this first stage of the fire fast information support helps to contain a fire before it becomes large.
Reconnaissance of large fire situations: For large fire monitoring and control the use of the ADS-95 drone Ranger, an unmanned small air vehicle equipped with optoelectronic sensors, was demonstrated. The vehicle is constructed by Oerlikon-Contraves and has been tested by the Swiss Air Force for its use in forest fire detection and monitoring.
The infrared sensor of the ADS-95 is able to distinguish temperature differences of ca. 0.1° C. In addition a video camera with zoom lens is available on board. The information of both optical camera systems is converted into a video signal and transmitted to the command vehicle on the ground (ground control station). With an endurance of up to 5 hours and a deployment distance of up to 100 km the drone is able to deliver a real-time situation analysis which facilitates the deployment of fire suppression forces, both from the air and on the ground. Operating with a cruise speed of up to 190 km/h at a service ceiling of 4500 m, the drone does not interfere with aerial extinguishant delivery (maximum operating altitude of fire bombing helicopters: 100 m above ground). With continuous transmission of data this system provides decision support for the fire command centre.
Suppression of high-intensity fires: Aerial extinguishant delivery was one of the main attractions at the Interlaken meeting. Two systems were demonstrated: the Ilyushin IL-76 and the Canadair CL-415. Both systems have been described in International Forest Fire News No.11 (July 1994). Detailed technical data are now available on the largest water bomber globally available – the Ilyushin IL-76:
Total tank capacity: 42 tons Number of water tanks: 2 Wing span: 50.5 m Maximum take-off weight: 190 t Cruising speed: 800 km/h Speed during discharge: 278 km/h Area covered by water 550 x 100 m Water concentration in centre of drop: 5.2 l/m2
Fig.1. Test drop of the Ilyushin IL-76 at the CTIF-1995 meeting in Interlaken: Releasing 42 tons of water (photo coutsey Keystone Press).