This year saw a particular up-tick in Wildfire activity in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, following an increasing trend in the last decade of larger and hotter fires burning across the nation. For much of the summer the Pacific Northwest’s summer skies were choked with smoke and ash, prompting the EPA to notice unhealthy air advisories that stretched for weeks at a time. Forest management practices are often contentious and political issues that take years if not decades to become implemented.
As a result we have established fire suppression methods aimed at response and prevention. One of the earliest examples of first response wildfire action have been fire look-outs, usually small buildings erected on strategic vantage points and manned by a Forest Ranger, which helped locate and establish first response teams to the source of a fire. The idea behind Fire Beacon is to install GPS capable “beacons” in strategic areas of the wilderness that see high human traffic. Users can download a connected app on their mobile device that connects to the beacon, even if there is no cellular service. Upon spotting a fire a user can report a sighting to the beacon which then relays users GPS coordinates to authorities who can pin-point current surveillance technologies to assess the threat and mobilize a response team. Beacon will help to expedite the first response to wildfires and will serve as a reminder of our responsibility to help prevent the destruction of our environment.