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Oregon is experiencing increasingly extreme fire seasons with devastating impacts. Keeping fires small is critical to protecting Oregonians, their communities and the state’s natural resources from wildfire and mitigating those impacts. The sooner a new fire is spotted, the faster resources can be sent out to fight it. Cameras are a vital detection tool that help response agencies keep watch over millions of acres of forestland, as well as rural and urban communities.
As with all technology, detection cameras are evolving. As new functionality and systems continue to emerge, a new committee was created by the Governor’s Office earlier this year to create a coordinated statewide approach to ensure that camera systems operated by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Hazards Lab at University of Oregon (OHAZ@UO) are integrated, interoperable, and complementary. The Wildfire Detection Camera Interoperability Committee’s mission is to build relationships, increase wildfire detection camera interoperability and resilience, ensure cross jurisdictional/cross-governmental communications and cooperation, and identify and implement best practices across the all-risk emergency operations ecosystem.
The array of ForestWatch cameras feed into multiple dedicated detection centers staffed by highly trained operators that have a proven track record of fire discovery. ALERTWildfire expands camera access to local first responders and provides situational awareness to the public. Joint planning is underway to further build out this network of cameras to complete a statewide infrastructure and to integrate the camera imagery of both platforms so that fire and emergency managers can have immediate situational awareness of fire events. Deployment of University of Oregon’s ALERTWildfire camera system, in conjunction with ODF’s ForestWatch system, will achieve a shared goal of reliable, transparent, and efficient monitoring and response for the sake of fire resiliency in Oregon.
Committee members include:
- the Governor’s Office
- Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)
- Oregon Hazards Lab atUniversity of Oregon (OHAZ@UO)
- Public Safety Agencies
- Fire Agencies
- Emergency Managers
- United States Forest Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Tribal Representation
- Statewide Interoperability Coordinator
Senate Bill 762 (2021) funded an expansion of ODF’s ForestWatch camera system that currently covers ODF jurisdictions as well as neighboring federal partner and wildland-urban interface lands. OHAZ@UO operates the ALERTWildfire system in Oregon that currently covers additional federal, state, county, private, urban, wildland-urban interface and other jurisdictions.
Source: Oregon Department of Forestry