The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) this week announced the selection of two industry partners to move forward with the next test and evaluation phase of S&T’s Wildland Fire Sensor Research Program. Breeze Technologies UG of Hamburg, Germany, and N5 Sensors, Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, were selected following the evaluation of sensor performance during laboratory and field testing.
“We are excited to move into the next phase of the Wildland Fire Sensor research,” said Jeff Booth, Director of S&T’s Sensors and Platforms Technology Center. “Both companies show great potential for operational deployment and dual-purpose wildfire detection and air quality monitoring capabilities.”
S&T field-tested the sensors in June 2021 during a prescribed burn at the Dye Creek Preserve in Red Bluff, CA, in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and The Nature Conservancy. Additional observers included partners from California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fire Administration. The demonstration provided further evidence that the sensor technologies can provide a valuable resource for first responders and the public at-large.
Evaluation criteria included smoke threshold detection levels, time and distance for alert generation from the point of ignition, number of false positive and false negative alerts, cost per unit, dual-use capabilities, and the companies’ ability to continue to enhance their products to quickly bring them to market.
“The next phase of the program will focus on hardening the sensors for longer-term field deployments. These sensors will provide early alerting capabilities in high risk areas where detection and alerting aren’t currently available,” said Booth.
Planned enhancements include improving detection algorithms to leverage multiple sensors, detect multiple ignition points, decrease time to detection, and reduce false alert rates. Additional improvements include optimizing communications and backhaul; improving the user interface; and incorporating meteorological sensors and capacity for off-grid deployment with solar recharging.
The S&T Wildland Fire Sensors research initiative, part of the Smart Cities Internet of Things Innovation (SCITI) Labs initiative, brings together government and private sector partners to identify technologies that meet operational needs of the public safety community and ensure the nation’s critical infrastructure remains secure and resilient.