There are various means available for detecting wildland fires, and a recent presenter at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference outlined an array of these technologies. Albert Simeoni of Worcester Polytechnic Institute discussed the important aspects of wildfire detection, from preventing fire spread to evaluating the intensity of fires, and what tools are available for local and global analysis.
Some of the technologies highlighted were image processing using satelliates and aircraft, infrared or ultraviolet sensors, and "acoustic" devices that allow users to track a fire through the noise it makes. Many of these tools, however, have its limitations, says Simeoni, who noted that an area's complex topography and smoke might impede the technology's performance.
A potential solution for better protection, adds Simeoni, are wireless sensor networks that are spatially distributed and can monitor a wildfire's temperature, heat flux, and smoke.
NFPA has conducted its own research on wildland fires--more specifically, the Fire Protection Research Foundation has completed a study that reviewed and assessed tools designed to address community wildfire risk, from land use regulation to adopting building codes and standards. Watch the following clip of Casey Grant, the Foundation's research director, giving an overview of this study: