Bushfire detection cameras were trialled in Australia last summer in the Otway Ranges, on Victoria’s south-west coast and near Tumut in New South Wales.
The cameras were placed in strategic positions around the Otway Ranges and on a fire tower in Tumut and are being evaluated by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre on their performance in detecting fire starts.
This was a research trial but the data was also made available to local fire incident control centres and the central operations of the state’s fire services.
The trial was conducted by the Bushfire CRC, the Federal Attorney-General’s Department, Victoria’s Office of Emergency Services Commissioner (in conjunction with other Victorian agencies) and Forests NSW.
The main aim of the trial is to compare the performance of different fire detection camera systems from three vendors on their ability to:
· Detect fire starts
· Exclude false detections of fire starts
· Integrate into fire service systems and processes, including warnings to the community.
Dr Richard Thornton, Research Director of the Bushfire CRC, said the trial with scientists from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems would provide useful baseline data on the cameras. “Technology such as fire detection cameras can be of great assistance to fire managers but we need to better understand their strengths and their limitations before deciding to adopt them on a broader scale.
“We looked at how accurately and quickly they can detect when a fire starts and then compared this with other methods such as fire towers, spotter planes and satellites, and reports made by the public on the ground. All these methods are still important so the fire detection cameras need to be able to work in well with the current fire management operations.”
In Victoria, three different types of fire detection camera systems were spread throughout the region from Anglesea on the coast and inland to Winchelsea South. The systems included video, still images, and heat and other detection methods.
The trial ran to April 2010. The final report - see download link below - was released by the Attorney General’s Department.