Canadian Forest Service Publications

The need for improved forest fire detection. 1987. Kourtz, P.H. Forestry Chronicle 63(4): 272-277.

Year: 1987

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 23505

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


During the past 30 years air patrols have replaced lookouts as the main forest fire detection method. A brief history of that change is presented, and motivations for it are discussed. Problems with the present approach to detection include inflexible aircraft contracts, lack of appreciation of the complexity of the daily detection planning process, and lack of a daily fire prediction system. Under conditions of poor visibility human vision cannot detect all-important small fires, with the possible result of significant delays in initial attack. High altitude infrared detection systems offer the only solution to this problem. The concept of detection being a component in the total fire management system is discussed and a method is described to obtain a proper balance between detection and initial attack activity levels.