Intelligent Forest Fire Prevention System

Intelligent Forest Fire Prevention System Abstract Apart from causing tragic loss of lives and valuable natural and individual properties including thousands of hectares of forest and hundreds of houses, forest fires are a great menace to ecologically healthy grown forests and protection of the...

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Intelligent Forest Fire Prevention System


Apart from causing tragic loss of lives and valuable natural and individual properties including thousands of hectares of forest and hundreds of houses, forest fires are a great menace to ecologically healthy grown forests and protection of the environment. Every year, thousands of forest fires across the globe cause disasters beyond measure and description. This issue has been the research interest for many years; there are a huge amount of very well studied solutions available out there for testing or even ready for use to resolve this problem. 

1. Introduction

Forests are the protectors of earth's ecological balance. Unfortunately, the forest fire is usually only observed when it has already spread over a large area, making its control and stoppage arduous and even impossible at times. The result is devastating loss and irreparable damage to the environment and atmosphere (30% of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere comes from forest fires), in addition to irreparable damage to the ecology (huge amounts of smoke and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere). Among other terrible consequences of forest fires are long-term disastrous effects such as impacts on local weather patterns, global warming, and extinction of rare species of the flora and fauna.

Millions of hectares of forest are destroyed by fire every year. Areas destroyed by these fires are large and produce more carbon monoxide than the overall automobile traffic. Monitoring of the potential risk areas and an early detection of fire can significantly shorten the reaction time and also reduce the potential damage as well as the cost of fire fighting. Known rules apply here: 1 minute—1 cup of water, 2 minutes—100 litres of water, 10 minutes—1,000 litres of water. The objective is to detect the fire as fast as possible and its exact localization and early notification to the fire units is vital. This is the deficiency that the present Invention attempts to remedy, by means of detection of a forest fire at the very early stage, so as to enhance or ensure the chance to put it out before it has grown beyond control or causes any significant damage.

There are a number of detection and monitoring systems used by authorities. These include observers in the form of patrols or monitoring towers, aerial and satellite monitoring and increasingly promoted detection and monitoring systems based on optical camera sensors, and different types of detection sensors or their combination.

The following part presents a brief overview of automatic and semiautomatic detection and monitoring systems of fire protection in the world, experience with these systems in practical operation, and their evaluation in terms of efficiency, accuracy, versatility, and other key attributes.

2. Authorities Fire Suppression and Detection Techniques

The most frequently used fire detection and suppression techniques employed by authorities can be summarized as follows:

(i)controlled burning,

(ii)fire weather forecasts and estimates of fuel and moisture,

(iii)watch towers,

(iv)optical smoke detection,

(v)lightning detectors which detect the coordinates of the strike,


(vii)spotter planes,

(viii)water tankers,

(ix)mobile/smart phone calls becoming increasingly common for detecting fires early, and

(x)education through Fire Watch or similar schemes for house owners.

Detection and monitoring systems are divided into the following two basic groups:

(a)volunteer reporting-public reporting of fires, public aircraft, and ground based field staff,

(b)operational detection systems: fire towers, aerial patrols, electronic lightning detectors, and automatic detection systems.

Some of the techniques used in fire suppression include burning dry areas under the management of fire fighters rather than having a crisis later or using flying water tankers like in Canada. Interestingly, others sweep away everything within a planned wide line to surround the fire with a dead end of unfuelled areas like in the Middle East. In some parts of Australia, providing the fire does not harm any humans or properties, it is left to burn, until it dies alone.

3. Optical Sensor and Digital Camera

Nowadays, two different types of sensor networks are available for fire detection, camera surveillance and wireless sensor network. The development of sensors, digital camera, image processing, and industrial computers resulted in the development of a system for optical, automated early recognition and warning of forest fires.

Different types of detection sensors can be used in terrestrial systems:

(i)video-camera, sensitive to visible spectrum of smoke recognizable during the day and a fire recognizable at night,

(ii)infrared (IR), thermal imaging cameras based on the detection of heat flow of the fire,

(iii)IR spectrometers to identify the spectral characteristics of smoke,

(iv)light detection and ranging systems—LIDAR (detection of light and range) that measure laser rays reflected from the smoke particles.

The variant optical systems working according to different algorithms designed by the producers, all have the same general concept in smoke and fire glow detection. Simply, the camera produces images every while. The image consists of a number of pixels, where the processing unit tracks the motion in images and checks how many pixels contain smoke or fire glow and then the processing unit sends the results for another algorithm to decide whether or not to produce an alarm for the operator. Most of the optical systems need to be integrated with geographical maps for localization reasons. 


Use of a given type of camera or sensor depends not only on the specific conditions of the operation but also on the financial resources available.

Forest Guard 365 is a video imaging system for forest fires early detection integrated with infrared, black and white and colour frequency detection. Its infrared option can distinguish between flame image and heat vapour. 

Optical sensors produced by Xiuge Tech, China, for forest fire detection consist of

(i)camera (colour during the day and ultralow light gray scale at night),

(ii)weather station,

(iii)lightening detection sensor,

(iv)communication unit, 

(v)power system.

Thermal camera or pan tilt zoom cameras can be added to the system. The system  offers automatic detection of fire and smoke. Simply, Forest Guard 365 can provide images for fire agencies whenever the operator notices smoke and can use software to use the GIS map and locate the smoke position on the ground. A weather station and lightening detector are included in the system for more accuracy.

The system is based on identifying smoke by clustering motions with a time input to reduce the number of false alarms.

This optical system has totally different techniques and is a system based on intelligent analysis of the atmosphere instead of detecting the smoke or fire glow. Our products tracks the way the atmosphere absorbs the sun light, which depends on the chemical composition in the atmosphere. Different composition has different absorption behaviour, so it can recognize the organic smoke from burnt trees and the industrial smoke. 

ForestWatch is an optical camera sensor system which provides a semiautomatic fire detection produced by EnviroVision Solutions, South Africa. A tower camera scans the area for smoke during day and fire glow during night. It can detect smoke in range of 16–20 Km and then report it over 0.25 Mpbs 3G or microwave connections. Forestwatch consists of

(i)a Pan tilt camera to allow a 360° rotation and +33 to −83 tilt from horizon, with 24x optical zoom,

(ii)image sampling engine,

(iii)communications system, such as 3G, microwave, or satellite,

(iv)ForestWatch software to process the received data and produce sufficient evaluation for the operator to make the final decision.

Schroeder (2004), in his article “Operational trial of the FireWatch wildfire smoke detection system,” argued that the microwave links are inexpensive and do not require a licence. However, these systems require a very high line of side transmitter and receiver every 50 Km. Schroeder suggested that satellite connection might be more effective and cheaper.

ForestWatch is the most popular system in forest fire detection and only Canada has a documentation test. ForestWatch performed adequately in this test: fires were reliably detected up to a 20 km range but false alarms were also generated. Operational Forest Watch systems are in use in South Africa (83 towers), Swaziland (5 towers), USA (22 towers), Canada (4 towers), Chile (20 towers), and Slovakia (4 towers). A pilot scale operation (two towers) is installed in Greece. The related Harbour Watch system has been deployed in South Africa and Namibia.

A risk management system which provides fire location consists of the following three layers:

(i)imaging layer represents installing cameras on suitable places,

(ii)communication layers set up the wireless link,

(iii)machine vision layer is the layer where FirHawk uses the ForestWatch software and GIS to provide a location and the shortest path to the fire.

Currently, Firehawk is installed in two areas in South Africa.

FireWatch is an automatic smoke detection system which can identify smoke within a range of 10–40 km. It has been studied for years (since 1992) in Germany, and now it is produced by German Aerospace Institute (DLR).

Operational FireWatch systems are in use in Germany (178 towers, 22 control rooms), Estonia (5 towers, 1 control room), Cyprus (2 towers, 1 control room), and Mexico (1 tower, 1 control room). Pilot scale systems (1 or 2 towers) are in use in the Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the USA.

FireWatch system overview is as follows.

(i)Optical sensor system (OSS): each OSS rotates 360 every 4 to 6 minutes in day time and 8–12 minutes during the night in 10 degree steps.

(ii)Data transfer: OSS at the tower has a wireless connection to the officer computer.

(iii)Central office: the forest workers are provided with work space (computers, monitors, and printer). 


If the sensor detects a cloud or a column of smoke, the information is transmitted to a central forest fire control office via ISDN (64 bits) or radio transmission of 1 Mpbs; it can be transmitted over 3G/4G but not recommended.


4. Wireless Sensor Networks

The line of sight and the early stage of the fire process problem could be solved with the second type of sensors. A new technology called wireless sensor network (WSN) is nowadays receiving more attention and has started to be applied in forest fire detection. The wireless nodes integrate on the same printed circuit board, the sensors, the data processing, and the wireless transceiver and they all consume power from the same source batteries. Unlike cell phones, WSN do not have the capability of periodic recharging. The sensors are devices capable of sensing their environment and computing data. The sensors sense physical parameters such as the temperature, pressure and humidity, as well as chemical parameters such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The sensors operate in a self-healing and self-organizing wireless networking environment. One type of wireless technology is ZigBee which is a new industrial standard based on IEEE 802.15.4. This technology emphasises low cost battery powered application and small solar panels and is suited for low data rates and small range communications. Wireless sensor networks have seen rapid developments in a large number of applications. This kind of technology has the potential to be applied almost everywhere; this is why the research interest in sensor networks is becoming bigger and bigger every year.

Forest fire detection and prevention are another real problem faced by a number of countries. Different methods for monitoring the emergence of fires have been proposed. The early methods were based on manned observation towers but this technique was inefficient and not entirely effective. Subsequently, camera surveillance systems and satellite imaging technologies were tried but this also proved ineffective at being able to efficiently monitor the initial start of the surface fire. For example, camera networks can be installed in different positions in the forests but these provide only line of sight pictures and may be affected by weather conditions and/or physical obstacles.

The revolution of WSN technology in recent years has made it possible to apply this technology with a potential for early forest fire detection. These sensors need to be self-organized and follow an efficient algorithm, interfaced with other technologies or networks. A number of studies have considered using WSN in wood fire systems.


5. Firesense

FIRESENSE (Fire Detection and Management through a Multi-sensor Network for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Areas from the Risk of Fire and Extreme Weather Conditions) is a Specific Targeted Research Project of the European Union's 7th Framework Programme Environment (including climate change).

The FIRESENSE FP7 project aims to implement an automatic early warning system to remotely monitor areas of archaeological and cultural interest from the risk of fire and extreme weather conditions.

FIRESENSE is a very complicated system; it consists of multisensors, optical, IR, and PTZ cameras in addition to temperature sensors, and weather stations. In this system, each sensor collects the data and applies some processing techniques and different models and data fusion algorithms in order to provide a clear understanding for the event to the local authority. Demonstrator deployments will be operated in selected sites in Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, and Italy.


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