Aerial firefighting is extremely hazardous and heavily relied upon to combat flames on steep slopes and remote terrain. Air Attack Magazine, based out of New Zealand, is dedicated to telling the stories behind the grit and grind of the firefighters and their aerial support tools in their battle to save property and lives.
Back in August 2018, VeriMap had been involved in a brutal nightly schedule of mapping thousands of hectares of British Columbia’s burning forests. Brenda Fox, our proclaimed publicist, shared her in-flight experience with Jason Jorgensen, the North American editor/journalist for Air Attack Magazine. Jorgensen met us in Reno to expand upon his coverage of the devastating California wildfires. While there, he had a chance to experience a first-hand demonstration of our wide area thermal mapper.
Jason managed to get some great images and promised a very thorough article. There was little indication as to the extent of the article or the outreach of its audience. This was only the second issue of the newly launched magazine, and we are ecstatic that a full spread was dedicated to VeriMap’s sophistication and determination of decades in development.
This past summer the west coast and interior of British Columbia experienced its worst wildfire season in 70 years. Over 1.3 million hectares burnt in 2018, and 1.2 million hectares in 2017. VeriMap is proud to have been contributed to efforts in both years, providing vital thermal imaging to aid in the wildfire suppression efforts.
“Heavy smoke chokes out all depth perception and any visible cues of the incoming danger from a distant raging wildfire. Large burning embers float on the hot gases expelled from the fire fronts and ride the winds undetected, spreading new hot spots and the threat to property, livestock and people.” – Brenda Fox
In 2018 VeriMap’s much-improved system scanned a 7.5-kilometer strip in a single pass and allowed us to fly from site to site and scan multiple wildfires per night. Each mission potentially produced thousands of hectares in a fire zone area over a hundred kilometers away from base.
While in flight, our airborne team created new wildfire perimeters and generated detailed thermal maps. Upon landing, the detailed thermal scans were provided to Wildfire Command then overlaid over road access points, property boundaries, and current attack plan base maps.
Critical wildfire perimeters and other, less detailed maps could be sent via satellite link in real-time to field operations, fire crews or waterbombers. This is the VeriMap vision: for worldwide wildfire suppression organizations to learn of and implement these tools to their full potential.
In Western Canada our hot dry summer turned to cooler temperatures, fires died out, winter was setting in. We, however, continued to hear of the devastating California fires just as wildfires began to rage down under. To us, very soon, it became apparent that VeriMap’s tools are gaining popularity with Air Attack Magazine readers from as far as Australia.
This VeriMap wide-area scanning mechanism concept has provided the basis for expansion to other scanning applications, such as right of way corridor inspections and detailed infrastructure mapping. Like the fabled story of the Phoenix, we at VeriMap like to think we were reborn of fire.