Cal Fire uses new technology to help with upcoming wildfire season

Computer programs help track flames, resources
Posted at 6:12 AM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-28 13:21:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The forecast in San Diego County for the week calls for high temperatures and low humidity, creating prime conditions for wildfires. But this year, Cal Fire has new technology designed to help them predict and fight fires more effectively.

The fire agency equipped all their cars, trucks and engines with a new Automated Vehicle Location system. That, combined with a computer program called SCOUT, shows the exact location of every resource around a fire.

"We can use that information to put the right people in the right places at the right time," said Cal Fire Capt. Jon Heggie, who gave 10News an exclusive tour of the Emergency Command Center.

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In addition to the new location system, Cal Fire is using a new fire mapping system called Wifire -- which was developed at UC San Diego. The program looks at fuel, topography and weather to predict how a fire will grow over a set period of time.

"That can help with planning evacuations, it can help us know where to put our resources," said Heggie.

The department also upgraded their mountain-top cameras, giving them the ability to see a fire in real time. They now have a real-time reporting system for defensible space to keep track of what homes need to be inspected.

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"The more information we have, the better we're going to be able to fight fire," said Heggie.