Many of us drones for good followers know that UAVs may also help fireplace fighters by offering data for a fireplace that’s exhausting to see on account of smoke or different components, or by utilizing aerial thermography to grasp the place a fireplace may nonetheless be smoldering.
But it seems drones have truly been hindering many giant wildland fireplace preventing operations.
In response, the U.S. Department of the Interior not too long ago launched an information sharing program known as “Current Wildland Fires” with the purpose of maintaining non-public UAV operators from flying over ongoing wildland fireplace operations.
Drones encroaching into ongoing firefighting operations is a rising concern. From 2014 to 2015 the variety of unauthorized UAVs flying over or close to wildfires grew from two to 25, after which jumped as much as 42 in 2016.
Several instances, when drones had been current close to wildfires that had been being actively fought by varied businesses, fireplace suppression aviators (just like the one pictured above) needed to take evasive motion to keep away from crashing right into a UAV.
Twelve of those drone encounters pressured fireplace fighters to cease aerial assist altogether till the drone vacated the world, placing different firefighters’ lives on the road and putting the encompassing communities at risk for an extended time frame.
About the Current Wildland Fires Program
In some respects, this downside isn’t shocking.
As the variety of drones within the U.S. grows, we are able to count on to see extra drones within the sky. Unfortunately, this additionally means extra drones doubtlessly posing a nuisance, or perhaps a actual risk, to different aviators (to not point out the folks on the bottom these aviators could also be making an attempt to assist).
One of the good issues in regards to the Interior’s Current Wildland Fires Program is that, by offering data on the place fires are occurring in actual time, it fingers drone operators a software to assist them fly extra responsibly.
“By offering higher public entry to a wider array of wildland fireplace location information, drone operators will Know Where Not To Go in close to real-time.”
– Mark Bathrick, Director of Aviation Services, U.S. Department of the Interior
According to the Interior greater than 73,000 wildfires are reported throughout the United States every year.
About 98% of them are contained inside the first 24 hours, earlier than incident managers ask the FAA to situation a Temporary Flight Restriction. This implies that most fires had been by no means plotted on dynamic aeronautical maps, and due to this fact had been by no means made identified to drone operators earlier than the Interior launched its 2016 initiative to share fireplace location information with business mapping providers that assist drone operations.
When it involves sharing information to extend security, that could be a monumental achievement.
The 2017 program expands on the 2016 program, offering location information on any wildland fireplace reported within the final eight days, which makes it extra strong than the earlier yr, when studies solely included data from the earlier 72 hours.
It’s not shocking that this system goals to teach UAV operators, because it was spearheaded by Mark Bathrick (quoted above), who oversees a fleet of over 200 drones because the Director of Aviation Services for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Check out the Interior’s Office of Aviation Services to be taught extra about the entire methods they’re utilizing UAVs, from preventing fires to serving to with geological and different surveys, and extra.
(By the best way, if Mark’s identify is acquainted, it’s as a result of he gave a formidable keynote on the Commercial UAV Expo final yr known as “What It Takes to Succeed in Drones: The Four Key Competencies.”)
How Can You Help?
Easy! Make certain you’re conscious of fires in your space earlier than you fly, and don’t fly close to them.
To use the Current Wildlife Fires program, drone operators can create an account on the GeoPlatform ArcGIS Online Organization at https://idp.geoplatform.gov/registeruser.html.
After your account is created go to https://geoplatform.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html and sign up utilizing the GeoPlatform.gov account, then seek for the group “Current Wildland Fires” and request to “Join this group” to realize entry to wildland fireplace location information.
We created an account to mess around with the map, and located it very easy to make use of. Here are some screenshots we took:
Given that we’re within the peak of summer time, there are a number of wildfires burning proper now.
Check out this text that USA Today printed yesterday protecting 27 wildfires burning throughout the west proper now, after which use the Current Wildland Fires map to keep away from flying in these areas (and others!) the place fires are occurring.
According to the article there are eight,400 fireplace fighters working across the clock proper now to maintain all of those fires from spreading. Let’s do what we are able to to assist them out.