Fire Safety in the Age of a Warming Planet

For many of us, forest fires were not something that we thought about much as kids. Other than when watching Bambi, or maybe Fantasia 2000, they just weren’t something we were aware of. As we all know now, this is no longer the case! Way back in January of 2020, the biggest story on the planet was how much of Australia was burning. The skies were apocalyptic and the question was how it could be controlled. Firefighters from countries all over the world flew in to help. Every fall in Northern California (where Jupiter Systems’ headquarters is located), we are deeply affected by forest fires. In fact, at times it’s gotten so bad here that we have to wear N95 masks (pre-COVID) in order to deal with the smoke issues.

While we could go on about how it has affected the lives of those in the fire/smoke zone, it has also been a massive adjustment for firefighting services in drought-prone areas all over the world. Due to a variety of factors, it’s no longer just a case of deploying trucks and a few water-bombers, it requires coordination with other agencies to take on what is an ever-growing problem. As a result, fire service agencies worldwide are having to adjust their approach. They cannot rely on just reacting to when fires start, they must become fortune-tellers and predict where things are more likely to happen so that resources can be deployed, power grids can be shut off, and warnings to the public can be sent out. For context; the town of Paradise, California was almost completely destroyed (19,000 structures, 85 dead) in just four hours! It is critical that a modern fire agency has the ability to look at all the data available not just about fires, but about things that can contribute to a fire. When fighting these fires, there should be a degree of precision and accuracy that would make the military proud!

When winds suddenly shift firefighters can find themselves trapped in a life or death situation. This is why weather data, available aircraft, and escape routes play a key part in safely fighting these fires. Managing resources and utilizing air traffic control in beneficial environments is vital to ensuring efficiency and avoiding disaster. And just like the military example, failure is NOT an option.

This is where Jupiter comes in. We have been defining data visualization for 35+ years. Our products are certified and more importantly, PROVEN to be the most reliable and resilient solutions in the market. Keeping track of everything going on during an active fire season gets more and more complex every year. Making sense of the early warning predictors, sensors, forecasts, drone footage, remote cameras, and resources in the field is a monumental task. So being able to build a system that can handle the base requirements of the rainy/cool seasons but then also scale to meet all the needs of an ever-unpredictable fire season is critical!

However, solely having a top-notch fire operations center is not enough. Fires are fought at airfields, fire camps, and now even in places that are labeled “fire-safe” zones. This is where Jupiter Systems goes above and beyond other partners with our Canvas software platform. We can provide logistic requirements and critical views of what is happening on the ground or flight paths and send that over your network via VPN to any device you choose!

Whether that is a field operations center, the cockpit of a helicopter, or even a pickup truck racing down a mountain road. Situational awareness is dependent on EVERYONE being on the same page. And when you are managing 10, 20, or more concurrent fires, being able to securely manage this data and send vital views people in the field need is critical. You want a tool like Canvas that ensures the control and granularity needed to make sure that you share what needs to be shared with only those that need it efficiently.

As the climate has changed, large scale forest fires have become the norm, and firefighting has changed along with it. While we have more comprehensive tools to predict and attempt to manage the devastation, modern fire agencies face the same issues that everyone does… Making sense of an ocean of data coming at them. Jupiter helps make sense of that data and apply the insights gained to ensure that they approach these potentially catastrophic events with the best possible footing. Jupiter is the partner that can bring this expertise to ensure you are set for the best possible outcomes.