Early detection is key to preventing dangerous fires. A CSIRO experiment showed that within two hours of ignition, fire area increased by 300 per cent. In even moderately dry summer conditions, every ten-minute delay in detection can see a fire’s area grow by up to 1500m².
Manual and citizen-sourced detection is still often relied on in Australia to detect fires, although satellite observations are increasingly the primary form of fire detection in more remote areas.
A range of technologies have been developed to improve accuracy and timeliness of detection. For example: Advanced satellites, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer and the Latrobe Valley Information Network.
A combination of emerging technologies could provide us with more accurate, near real-time detection of fires, allowing communities time to safely evacuate and emergency services to respond. Ground-based aerial and satellite detection capabilities will detect indicators of ignition, such as heat, smoke and lightning strikes in real time and transmit location data and images to alert emergency services personnel.