WILDFIRES

Infrared Camera System Helps Firefighters Respond Faster

Jul 15, 2020, 10:17 PM | Updated: 11:21 pm

LAYTON, Utah – A high-tech system of military-grade infrared cameras could help firefighters get the upper hand on wildfires in the near future.

The Early Detection Wildfire Imaging Network, or EDWIN, uses a high-speed fiber internet connection to scan for unusual hotspots that could become wildfires.

If something hotter than 300 degrees Fahrenheit pops up, firefighters will know about it quickly.

“I don’t know that there’s anything quite like this anywhere else in the country right now,” said Chief Kevin Ward with the Layton Fire Department.

That is the kind of impact that Ward is hoping for from the EDWIN camera that now sits above the Valley View Golf Course. 

“The fire might not go noticed and those extra minutes could be the difference between losing homes and costing lives and being able to get people out of an area, evacuate people out,” Ward said.

These live military-grade infrared cameras can pick out a fire down to the size of a pixel.

Officials demonstrate the EDWIN camera system.

“It can be anywhere from the size of a chair to the size of a bus, depending on where you’re looking at on the mountain,” said Roger Timmerman, executive director of UTOPIA fiber.

Timmerman said they initially took the idea to some seniors at Brigham Young University, who used it for a research project.

Chaz Nelson was one of those students.

“We took it out to do some testing with the firefighters in Woodland Hills and they set up a fire about a kilometer away from where we were testing, and we were able to see a six-inch flame with a pretty significant heat signature,” said Nelson said, who now works for UTOPIA.

There are also cameras in Woodland Hills and Murray.

Timmerman said with 40 cameras, they could just about cover the Wasatch Front. Another 15 cameras could cover the Wasatch Back.

They cost about $50,000 apiece, plus setup. Ward said that’s a small cost for cities and towns that could ultimately lose much more.

EDWIN cameras have already been set up in Layton, Woodland Hills and Murray.

“There’s some significant advantages to this,” he added.

The folks at UTOPIA said several other cities may get on board including Brigham City, Payson and Centerville, to name a few.

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Infrared Camera System Helps Firefighters Respond Faster