Uncontrolled Forest Fires remains one of the biggest risks facing the forests today.
Fires have the ability to destroy thousands of trees. Fire management within forestry is critical to avoid economic losses and to protect the lives of people and the natural environment. A good fire risk strategy will include elements of fire prevention, detection and suppression.
Forest companies are becoming more reliant on technology to detect fires and no longer solely rely on people. Companies can use the conventional smoke detection systems which uses CCTV in combination with smoke identifying algorithms or they can use the more advanced thermal (heat) imaging cameras which uses modern thermal imaging sensors to identify the heat from a fire.
One of the major advantages of thermal imaging cameras is its ability to detect fires when they are still very small compared to the smoke detection cameras that have been criticized for raising multiple false alarms and become unreliable;
- at night,
- in adverse weather conditions (fog) and
- when there is a lot of smoke pollution from existing fires.
Smoke detection cameras will only be able to detect a fire once a detectable fire column is present which normally implies a big fire is in existence and requires additional expensive resources to destroy it.
“Timely intelligence mitigates risks and protects resources and infrastructure, thus containing dangerous or costly situations before they can escalate.”
The initial set-up cost for thermal imaging is higher than the conventional smoke detection system but the set-up cost must be weighed up against possible losses suffered in delayed detection. A notable disadvantage of thermal detection is the line-of-sight requirement, which can be difficult to achieve in a mountainous terrains.
INSIGHT ROBOTICS, a company specialising in thermal cameras and who mainly operate in China and Canada, seeks to increase its market share in the world through establishing partnerships. The company’s strength lies in its ability to continuously develop and upgrade its software which is key to the detection of fire.
Blogpost and photo by Joey Lascelles – joeyl(at)ufproducts.co.za