Your local FPA office will soon start harnessing space-age technology in order to detect large fires almost immediately, even in remote areas, and allow for an extremely rapid response.
Satellite dishes are being installed at the offices of the Cape Peninsula, Greater Overberg, Greater Cederberg and Southern Cape FPAs, to pick up the fire data detected by American and European satellites orbiting the earth. The FynbosFire Project is sponsoring this technology, which is also being set up at the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency.
Computer systems are also being installed in the offices, to map out the fires and reveal their intensity.
Currently, certain FPA staff receive SMSes describing the location of fires from a third party, such as CapeNature or Working on Fire. The new system will allow for a quicker response and better grasp of the nature of the fire.
“It will help us to warn landowners and make provision to fight the fires immediately,” said Danie Grabe, extension officer for the SCFPA Eastern region. “We will be able to immediately phone the landowner, to warn them of whether to evacuate and other measures to take.”
In addition, several weather stations are being installed in areas within the FPA’s boundaries, to detect conditions that might increase the fire risk.
“This new system harnesses the best fire-detection technology in the world, for the benefit of local landowners and communities,” said Charl du Plessis, general manager of the GCFPA.
“It is one of the ways of showing the dedication of our FPAs’ to Integrated Fire Management – the best strategy for managing the risk of runaway wildfire.”
To find out more about the satellite data detection system, which was developed by South African scientist Philip Frost, log on to www.afis.co.za