|Causes of Forest Fires|
To be able to prevent forest fires we need to know how they get started. Most forest fires are due to human involvement and only a small percentage is due to natural causes.
In Greece the majority of forest fires is due to human negligence. More specifically, the main causes of forest fires in Greece are:
- Lighted Cigarettes and matches
- Agricultural activities like land clearing, rangeland burning and equipment use
- Burning of garbage
- Camp fires that gets out of control
|Early Forest Fire Detection|
Fire prevention measures include the prevention before a fire breaks out and the measures for reducing the damage of a forest fire after it breaks out.
Public Education. Humans are responsible for most forest fires and thus the first step in prevention should be informing, educating and mobilizing citizens about the risks of forest fires. Education should begin at school and continued with several campaigns, seminars, information brochures, tv-shows and commercial spots in the media.
Danger detection systems. Included in preventative measures should be statistics that predict the probability of fire in certain areas helping in the immediate response.
Firebreaks/Fire preventing lanes. Their aim is to stop the course of the fire and they can be used for providing access to ladder trucks.
Watchtowers. Strategically placed watchtowers for the purpose of detecting fires.
Installation of water reservoirs. In case of fire they are used to provide immediate water.
Patrols. Immediate detection of fire with regular patrols during seasons with high fire risks.
Clearing schedules. Regular cleaning of road networks from fallen branches, vegetation and flammable materials at.
Creation of recreation areas. With the creation of camping grounds the danger of starting a fire is decreased because campers are limited to controlled areas.
Heliports. Built to help transport wounded people, personnel and supplies during a fire.
Forest telecommunications. Wireless communication between the Forestry Department and the workers of Forest inspection, that contribute in the prevention and extinguishment of fires.
|Advanced Systems for fire detection|
Early forest fire detection is necessary in order to prevent wild fires and large areas of forest being destroyed. Relying solely on human detection of forest fires is not the most efficient method. Modern technology can help in early detection of forest fires.
NLNT - National Lookout Towers Network. In some regions of Portugal the use of National Lookout Towers Network is an important element in fire detection in but unfortunately detect a very low percentage of total wildfires. NLNT is a main organized fire detection system, having a total of 236 observation posts. These posts have been placed gradually over the last decades, resulting in a under optimized network. It seems that NLNT is more efficient during the day than other detection systems, but less efficient at night. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are now researched to improve fire detection effectiveness.
INPAS - Integral Forest Fire Monitoring System. Croatia is a country with high risk of forest fires. They have used a system called Integral Forest Fire Monitoring System (in Croatian IPNAS) developed at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture University of Split. A rather new, technically more advanced approach to human forest fire surveillance is installation of remotely controlled video cameras on monitoring spots. Now the human observer is not located on the monitoring spot anymore. His observation station is the monitoring centre equipped with adequate video presentation and video storing devices connected with wires or wireless to distant video cameras located on monitoring spots. The video cameras based human forest fires surveillance has many advantages in comparison to direct human observation on monitoring spots. Let us mention the most important of them:
a) Using video cameras the human observer is capable of monitoring a wider area covered by few video monitoring field units.
b) Cameras are usually equipped with power zoom (optical zoom with 22 x magnification) so the observer could easily inspect suspected areas.
c) System usually has video storing capabilities, at least for the last couple of days, and that is quite useful for post-fire analysis.
Fire Sensors. A Swedish company is looking for a license agreement for their design on a family of small, low-cost, non-serviceable and disposable radio-communicating fire sensors to work with early forest fire detection systems. The plan is that lightweight sensor units which have an electronic identity number are placed in trees either from the air or from the ground. When subjected to high temperatures such as fire for a few seconds the sensor transmits a radio signal with a unique identity code.
A study in Spain suggests using multi-sensorial integrated systems for early detection of forest fires. Information and data collected from infrared, visual cameras, meteorological stations, and topography and terrain maps can help in detecting forest fires.
ForestWatch. ForestWatch is a smoke detection system used for early detection of forest fires. It is a software programme that uses algorithms of movement detection. The system uses a network of video cameras placed in various towers in the forest. A video software program transmits the data that connects the towers with a central office. There is a watchperson in the central office that observes the video transmissions and records where there is smoke.
ForestWatch can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is precise even at night with each camera being able to record up to a distance of 40 km.
- Forest Fire Protection by Advanced Video Detection System - Croatian Experiences, Darko Stipanicev, Tomislav Vuko, Damir Krstinic, Maja Stula, Ljiljana Bodrozic
- Forest Fires Prevention in Portugal - Using GIS to Help Improving Early Fire Detection Effectiveness, Filipe X. Catry, Francisco C. Rego, Teresa Santos, Joel Almeida, and Paulo Relvas
- Integrated Systems For Early Forest-Fire Detection, A. OLLERO, J.R. MARTINEZ-DE DIOS and B.C. ARRUE, Departamento de Ingenieria de Sistemas y Automatica. Universidad de Sevilla
- http://www.moa.gov.cy/moa/fd/fd.nsf/DMLprotection_gr/ 28AB9B8C984E2C7FC2256F1C00375F64?OpenDocument#4