ACT to trial smoke and fire-detection cameras ahead of next bushfire season

Dominic Giannini 28 February 2020 28
Orroral Valley fire

Indra says the fire-detection technology reduces the number of fires by 40 per cent and the average burned area by 30 per cent. Photo: Gary Hooker ACT RFS via ESA Twitter.

Six new fire and smoke detection cameras that can identify threats behind hills and in forests will be rolled out across the ACT as part of the mid-year Budget update, docking the Territory’s bottom line by $1 million.

The $976,000 spend on the cameras and seven new electronic fire danger rating signs will help the Emergency Services Agency (ESA) make sure the ACT is more prepared going into the next bushfire season, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said.

“At the request of the ESA, we are funding a six-month trial of fire and smoke detection cameras in key elevated locations across Canberra to establish how they could assist with early fire detection,” Mr Gentleman said.

“The ACT Government is investing $976,000 in the 2019-20 Budget Review, which adds to our $2.65 million for strengthening bushfire preparedness and ACT Rural Fire Service partnerships in the 2019-20 Budget.

“This includes continuing the ACT’s contribution to the National Emergency Alert system.”

The ESA is working on the camera technology with Indra, a Spanish information technology and defence systems company. The cameras will be installed on towers around the ACT to autonomously detect bushfire indications like smoke and flames.

“They will assist our ESA staff and rural bushfire staff in spotting fires. They will be in addition to our staff. Our staff do an important role in looking after bushfires through their spotting of fires on the towers, but sometimes it is a little dangerous to put staff up in the towers.

“Now, we can remove staff safely and still have a good vision of what is going on throughout the Territory. They will be able to look at not just the forested and rural areas of the ACT, but the urban areas as well.”

According to Indra, the cameras have 37-times zoom, a detection range of up to 15 km (around 700 square km per lookout), and provide 360-degree real-time analysis of temperature, humidity, direction and wind speed.

The technology is capable of detecting fires located behind hills and reduces the number of fires by 40 per cent and the average burned area by 30 per cent, Indra says.

Indra bushfire detection cameras

The new Indra bushfire detection cameras. Photo: Indra.

The trial period will be used to examine the reliability and accuracy of the cameras, with the cameras being tested in the cooler seasons with lightning strikes and storms ahead of the next fire season.

“I would like to see early indications of how successful they are, and how trustworthy they are – we do not want too many false readings,” Mr Gentleman said.

Mr Gentleman also told reporters that firefighting capabilities in the ACT would “certainly” receive more funding, but did not provide further detail.

“We have more plans for increasing our firefighting force across the ACT, particularly the urban force,” he said.

“There is more money for urban firefighters, for urban equipment and new stations in the ACT as well.”

ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan, Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman and Chief Minister Andrew Barr

ESA Commissioner Georgeina Whelan, Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman and Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Photo: Dominic Giannini

The United Firefighters Union of Australia ACT Branch has previously called on the ACT Government to fund an extra 94 firefighters, two new fire stations and three more trucks in this year’s budget at an estimated cost of $48 million.

Overtime for ESA staff is also set to impact the Budget, with Mr Gentleman saying a rolling log of costs will be presented to him soon.

“I am advised by ESA that they have kept a rolling log of costs during this fire season and we will have that very shortly. But overtime is an important, integral part of shift work,” he said.

“We budget for overtime, but not in a sense where we have had to draw so many resources.

“This will be a cash cost to ESA and, of course, we will be writing to the Commonwealth and asking for support for our extra costs, both in people that are working in businesses across the ACT but also our ESA as well,” he said.


What's Your Opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
28 Responses to ACT to trial smoke and fire-detection cameras ahead of next bushfire season
Dragica Ivanovic Dragica Ivanovic 3:53 pm 16 Feb 20

And when the fire can be seen they don’t have the ability or the desire to allow the fires to be put out successfully. The trucks and other equipment needs an upgrade and fires fighters need to be allowed to do their job safely. Plus stop chemtrails that make the fires burn much more ferociously.

Lindell McAnanly Lindell McAnanly 9:33 pm 15 Feb 20

This is probably the money they have promised to 5he bush fire victims that haven't received what a joke just another tactic by the goverment

Michael Werner Michael Werner 8:23 pm 15 Feb 20

What a waste of tax payer funds...!

Put it toward appliances and hazard reduction burning you complete imbeciles.

    Tom Lawson Tom Lawson 9:51 pm 15 Feb 20

    Michael Werner Emergency Services ACT requested this funding from the government and they have provided it. Controlled burns have happened every single year throughout the cooler months subject to prevailing conditions, to reduce risk to property and life. But please, tell us what fire management qualifications you have?

    Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 10:36 pm 15 Feb 20

    Tom Lawson you’re correct.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:45 pm 15 Feb 20

“This will be a cash cost to ESA and, of course, we will be writing to the Commonwealth and asking for support for our extra costs, both in people that are working in businesses across the ACT but also our ESA as well,”

Whatever the outcome of that request, the recent near-miss for the Brindabella Business Park should certainly prompt the Commonwealth to look very closely at the fire risk to its various facilities and establishments in the ACT – particularly those which need to operate 24/7.

Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 6:58 pm 15 Feb 20

😡😡😡😡has to be an absolute joke 👏

Peter Major Peter Major 5:03 pm 15 Feb 20

Try control burns, and minimize fuel load.

    Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 10:34 pm 15 Feb 20

    Peter Major been carrying them out during last year.

Chris Lawson Chris Lawson 2:59 pm 15 Feb 20

'Indra says the fire-detection technology reduces the number of fires by 40 per cent and the average burned area by 30 per cent'. Anything that makes life easier and safer for fire fighters and residents would have to be a good idea ,wouldn't it? According to most posts on this site , its not a good idea because its going to cost a whopping $987,000. Glad you people are not in charge of bush fire management.

    Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 10:34 pm 15 Feb 20

    Chris Lawson Ditto. Exactly

    John Sykes John Sykes 11:43 pm 15 Feb 20

    Chris Lawson so a camera using your quote "reduces the number of fires by 40%".

    Is it attached to a water bomber and predicts the future?

    Chris Lawson Chris Lawson 9:15 am 16 Feb 20

    Thats exactly what is does John. Not only good for predicting future bush fires but might come in really handy for predicting future lotto numbers.

Aldo Milin Aldo Milin 1:13 pm 15 Feb 20

It's well established that pollies in this Territory are proficient at wasting money so it's business as usual...

Grant Jackson Grant Jackson 10:40 am 15 Feb 20

That is ridiculous, controlled burning in Winter.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 9:08 am 15 Feb 20

What ever happened to Mt Coree and other observation towers? Infrastructure already in place, do they cost more than $1,000,000 to man or what?

Daniel Evans Daniel Evans 8:23 am 15 Feb 20

So each camera and sign costs $75,000, can't we get better value for our money buying stuff

Spiral Spiral 7:55 am 15 Feb 20

Seems worthwhile to trial.
Attacking fires as soon as possible after they start and before they grow large would seem to be better than fighting them later.

If this does improve our early detection rates then great.

Over time the technology should hopefully get better and cheaper but you have to start somewhere.

Perhaps in a few years we will have heat sensing drones patrolling he sky over our forests, calling in waterbombers as soon as they detect a fire.

Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 7:30 am 15 Feb 20

That mil could be used better put towards more trucks and equipment. Pretty sure the sign of smoke is still a valid indicator of fire - cost nothing.

    Evan Wythes Evan Wythes 10:56 am 15 Feb 20

    Garry Peadon what do they say.... I think it’s something like “if there’s smoke there’s fire”

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:42 pm 15 Feb 20

    Garry Peadon yup smoke means fire, but the bit you have missed is you need to be able to spot the smoke in the first place and identify where it is.

    If you read the article there are already fire towers that are manned with spotters (one is about 1km from my place) and the cameras are to supplement and improve that capability.

Matt Russell Matt Russell 7:28 am 15 Feb 20

So much money

    Daniel Evans Daniel Evans 8:24 am 15 Feb 20

    Matt Russell it works out at only $75,000 for each sign and camera that's cheap isn't it

Bill Pappas Bill Pappas 8:45 pm 14 Feb 20

How about control burnings.....

    Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 9:41 pm 14 Feb 20

    I think the 80 per cent burn off of all the namadgi park and most of the east coast forests might be a big enough burn off for a while.

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 9:44 pm 14 Feb 20

    Bill PappasThey do and did including Black Mountain.

    Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 10:30 pm 15 Feb 20

    Bill Pappas I received at least 18 emails notifying me of prescribed burns last year.

Megan Meg Megan Meg 6:25 pm 14 Feb 20

Is this part of our adaptation plan ?

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top

Search across the site