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Operations Centers Activate to Combat Wildfires

Sep 15, 2020

Wildfires in the American West have burned over 4 million acres of land, with the largest and most devastating occurring in California, Oregon, and Washington. According to the National Fire Information Center, more than 30,000 personnel have been assigned to combat the over 80 major fires currently burning in the West. 29 of those major fires are in California alone.

Emergency Operations Centers respond to wildfires

As with any natural disaster, local emergency operations centers have been activating to combat the threat to communities. In these operations centers, representatives from multiple departments collaborate using shared data to craft a strategic response to emerging and developing threats. In crises such as wildfires, emergency operations centers ensure that up-to-date information can be shared among federal, state, and local partners as well as with the public.

In addition to traditional emergency operations centers, command centers that focus specifically on wildfire management have begun to emerge as these fires become increasingly common.

Fire Command Centers

Traditionally, reports of fires come in via 911 calls and fire spotters who scanned the horizon for smoke from inside lookout towers. While these are still useful methods of fire detection, technological advances have allowed for additional innovations in detecting, tracking, and responding to wildfires. Wildfire command centers are beginning to pop up, with examples like PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and the Forest Service’s Geospatial Technology and Applications Center, which uses satellite technology to detect and monitor wildfire activity among other applications.

Operators in these fire safety operations centers use tools including thermal imagery from space satellites, real-time footage from trail cameras, images captured by aircraft, weather stations that monitor conditions such as humidity, wind speed, and temperature, and artificial intelligence that integrates these sources to identify the hottest spots and predict spread.

Combining all this data into one place creates an all-important sense of situational awareness. With this technology, those fighting the fires can make more informed decisions to ensure firefighter safety. Using intelligence from all these different inputs means fires can be fought more aggressively and with more forethought. The earlier that action can be taken, the better. The data shared in these fire command centers informs decisions like where to construct fire lines.

Intelligence from a fire command center can also come in handy after the wildfires have been extinguished. Mapping out the severity of burn areas informs decision makers of the extent of the damage so that resource management can be properly allocated. Those areas with most severe damage can then be stabilized so hazards like flash floods and mudslides are better prevented.

Constant Technologies creates effective command centers

Efficient, informed response is key to handling emergency situations. A successful emergency response is the result of quality data and the persistence of the operations team.

The design of an operations center should be carefully considered to allow for quick and efficient coordination and response. As the physical space where operators gather to share critical information, coordinate response initiatives, and manage personnel, the operations center space should not distract from the vital roles that need to be performed. Instead, it should make them as easy as possible.

Operations center response is aided by a large, central video wall that displays real-time data that all operators in the space can view. The spatial design of a command center should create focal points for data and facilitate collaboration between teams. Furniture in an operations center should also include ergonomic adjustment options, such as sit-stand consoles, for operators who work long shifts to combat emergencies round-the-clock.

The team at Constant has over 30 years of experience creating these critical spaces. We provide everything from spatial design and customizable console furniture to video wall integration, installation, and service. To make sure your command center is ready to handle the next crisis, contact us today.

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About Constant:

Constant Technologies, Inc. provides AV integration for 24/7 video walls and custom operation center furniture. With 30+ years of experience, we can work with sensitive environments in the public and private sectors. Constant designs and installs projects of all scopes and sizes around the world. We also offer long-term service and support. We create solutions with the highest levels of security, aesthetics and functionality in mind.