Wildfire: What to consider and how does software support?

Daniela Obrecht, 30.09.2018
Operations involving wildfires and vegetation fires are often associated with a high risk for the emergency forces. This makes it all the more important to have well-functioning communication between incident command and the individual units. The Firetab software offers the ideal support for this with its modules.

Wildfires in grain fields or forest areas pose numerous dangers for firefighters in the field. Densely standing grain burns particularly quickly because of its large surface area, as do coniferous forests on slopes. The influence of the wind should not be underestimated: gusts of wind can come up unexpectedly. They drive the fire line forward and also influence the length of the flame. It is therefore important to take time for a comprehensive reconnaissance and to observe the following:

  • Wind direction
  • Wind strength
  • Flame length
  • What is in the main direction of spread?
  • Is the field harvested or not?
  • Is a farmer and possibly a harvester on site?
  • Where is the nearest water point?

Buildings and vegetation in the vicinity as well as the nearest water extraction points are immediately visible on Firetab. All other information is recorded on an initial location sketch. This can be done particularly quickly with the Firetab sketch module. With this module, the incident commander draws the situation directly on the digital map. The sketch is automatically visible on all Firetab devices.

With a clear situation sketch it is quickly clear where which units have to be placed. Decisions are entered into the location sketch and then also appear synchronously on all devices. For maximum safety, it is advisable to place an observer at each operational section. This observer warns the firefighters in action, e.g. in case of sudden weather changes or new fire islands, and coordinates a possible retreat.

Contact a farmer? - Just a touch away

The contact details of the affected farmer and other farmers in the vicinity are also helpful. They can often provide significant support during the operation. For example, they can create a wound strip with a mower at a safe distance. Contact can be accelerated with the Firetab Information of Point module. By touching a building, it directly searches for the names and telephone numbers of the occupants.

Safety thanks to communication

Communication is also particularly important for wildfires. A good connection between command and units eliminates the risk of being surprised by sudden changes in the situation. Ideally, every section leader should have a tablet with Firetab®. This way, everyone is always up to date on decisions made by the operations command and what is happening in the other sections. A special plus for the command: Thanks to the Firetab Tracking module, it is always possible to see where the section leaders are at any given time.

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