Fire Return Intervals
Fire & Climate
Wildfires have increased in frequency, duration, and intensity worldwide. Climate change, drought, and other factors have not only increased susceptibility to wildfires, but have also increased the duration of the season. There are a number of factors affecting wildfires: detection, speed of communication/response time, resources/politics/climate change/infrastructure to fight fires, and prevention education. A wildfire doubles in size and intensity every 3 to 5 minutes and response times tend to be 10 to 15 minutes at best. The goal of the trade analysis is to arrive at a cost‐effective and robust performance system which can be operated at the county level with minimal infrastructure to mitigate the menacing problem of forest wildfires. The approach will be a disciplined systems engineering approach to objectively arrive at the best solution for detection and communication of wildfires, having analyzed the measures of effectiveness (MOEs) for all critical requirements for a technologically diverse set of solutions. Though the analysis is still at a very early stage and the outcome could change as additional details are developed, due diligence was exercised in the evaluation of parameters such as detection time, total operations cost, and operational flexibility, to name a few. Early trade‐off results indicate that the lead concept is a rotor‐wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) concept, utilizing a rotorcraft configuration which could be outfitted with a remote‐sensing payload compliment based on light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology with associated functional equipment such as global positioning systems (GPS) and inertial measurement units (IMU). The UAV would be semiautonomous, launched from and remotely controlled by an operator in the general area of interest. Upon arriving at this area of interest, the UAV would then fly a flight plan autonomously to collect and communicate data to a base station to be used to direct wildfire mitigation services in the event of a positive detection.