An integrated approach for early forest fire detection and verification using optical smoke, gas and microwave sensors
In 2008 the research project "International Forest Fire Fighting" (iWBB) was funded by the Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. A group of companies, research institutes and universities are working together to develop an integrated, but modular system. An integrated approach for early forest fire detection and suppression is based on an adequate combination of different detection systems depending on wildfire risk, the size of the area and human presence affiliated with an adequate logistical infrastructure, training by simulation, and innovative extinguishing technology based on armoured tracked fire fighting vehicles. As large areas have to be monitored, only remote sensing technologies (e.g. video based systems) are able to perform early detection adequately. To reduce false alarms a remote controlled unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with gas sensors and a thermal camera flies to a potential fire to specify the origin of the reported cloud. The UAV can also be used as a scout for fire fighters. After successful fire extinction an unmanned blimp can be used as a fireguard to reduce the risk of reignition of the fire. As monitoring tools, a microwave radiometer, which is capable of detecting hot spots even under insufficient vision (due to smoke clouds and below the ground surface), gas and smoke sensors and a thermal camera are mounted on the blimp. The benefit of a blimp is a higher payload. This paper presents an investigation of an early forest fire detection system on the basis of indoor (performed in the fire lab of the University of Duisburg-Essen) and outdoor tests. A commercial highly sensitive aspirating smoke detector, two gas sensors (H2 and C xHx) and the microwave radiometer are detailed and detection algorithms are described. A general overview about the project and the carrier platforms is presented.