Promotion photo from Drones Amplified
29 Jul 2023

Innovations and news for wildfire fighting and extreme weather impact 2023


Extreme weather events seem to increasingly plague the planet and wildfire seasons are starting earlier with burning larger areas lost. Here are some examples of what fire services are doing to deal with escalating heat waves and wildfires.

Contact us to let us know what is happening in your area!

This article is a " evolving article / living document" and we will add more information as it comes in. If you have tips of interesting innovations, tactics and policies brought on by the escalating wildfire situation, please write to the editor of CTIF News.  


UPDATED July 31:

With the help of artificial intelligence, the sensor can tell the difference between a nascent wildfire or, for example, the fumes from a passing diesel truck. Image Courtesy: Dryad
With the help of artificial intelligence, the sensor can tell the difference between a nascent wildfire or, for example, the fumes from a passing diesel truck. Image Courtesy: Dryad

German researchers prevent forest fires with electronic sniff detectors

A new way to stop future forest fires is being tested in Germany. Electronic "nose sensors" help to "smell" new wildfires, in order to prevent them from spreading. 

The smoke sensors are tested by lighting bonfires at different distances from them. The hope is that the sensors will also be able to "sniff out" what kind of fire it is.

Raimund Engel, responsible for fighting forest fires in Brandenburg, says that in recent years they have been able to significantly reduce the size of fire-affected areas. Last year, over 500 forest fires broke out in Brandenburg, making it Germany's worst-hit region for wildfires. 

"If you detect a forest fire early enough, you can stop great devastation", says Engel. Read more on CTIF.org


Updated July 26:

The Papageno hose system demonstrated in an animated video

Ground Suppression: Sprinkler hose system invented which mimics aerial attack while on the ground

German company HozeSolutions.com has invented a fire hose system especially designed for wildfires.

The Papageno system is described as an inexpensive alternative to aerial water bombing, which is less weather dependant than flying. 

In many ways it can be compared to a large garden hose with sprinkler holes, enabling the hose to sprinkle water along a limitline, while allowing fire fighting crews to fall back to a safe distance from the fire.

The Papageno hose system demonstrated in an animated video. It comes as a module covering 800 meters of distance (which can then be scaled by adding more  modules. It has, according to the company,  been validated on high intensity fires with flame lengths of over 8 meters and intensities exceeding 2500kW/m (as seen here https://youtu.be/lYUsZJSkXPY . More tests and validations will be carried out during the Fall of 2023 before the system becomes available to buy. 


The Papageno system from Hoze-solutions.com.

According to the company website the system is water efficient due to precise distribution and can operate 24/7 in strong winds. 

"In essence, we looked at the wetting patterns obtained from aerial drops as reported in publications such as Amorim, J. H. "Numerical modelling of the aerial drop of firefighting agents by fixed-wing aircraft. Part II: model validation." International Journal of Wildland Fire 20.3 (2011): 394-406. We then used our ground-based hose fitted with bespoke nozzles to reproduce these wetting levels after 15-20 minutes running time", says Martin Hofmann, one of the two founders of the company. 


Updated July 25:

Wikipedia Commons License:   This image explaining cloud seeding shows the chemical either silver iodide or dry ice being dumped onto the cloud, which then becomes a rain shower. The process shown in the upper-right is what is happening in the cloud and the process of condensation to the introduced chemicals. Date25 March 2011 SourceOwn work AuthorNaomi E Tesla
Wikipedia Commons License
Author: Naomi E Tesla

Mexico’s government has launched the latest phase of a cloud seeding project it hopes will increase rainfall, reports The Guardian. 

The project began in July and involves planes flying into clouds to release silver iodide particles which  in theory will attract additional water droplets and increase rain or snowfall.

However,  Mexico’s leading cloud physicists have cast significant doubt on the viability of the technology and experts across fields warn against simple solutions to the effects of climate change:

“There is no evidence that cloud seeding techniques allow for the increase of precipitation over important economic zones, nor is there certainty about effects outside the targeted zone,” write Fernando García García and Guillermo Montero Martínez, cloud physicists at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (Unam).

Recent drought in Mexico have put climate change into focus. It was the hottest month on record in Mexico, with temperatures 2.3C higher than historical averages.

The heat has killed a lot livestock,  and on the US-Mexico border in Mexicali, temperatures hit 50.2C (122F), a national record. At least 167 Mexicans have died as a direct result of the heat.

In 2020, CTIF.org wrote about similar projects in cloud seeding designed to fight forest fires in Siberia, Russia.


Updated July 21:

US Air Force Photo: https://jenikirbyhistory.getarchive.net/amp/media/back-on-track-c852a9Northern Canadian city opens up sports facility for free to give residents relief from heat and wildfire smoke

With skies overrun by wildfire smoke, the northern Canadian City of Yellowknife (Northwest Territories) pulled the emergency lever on Wednesday by opening up its fieldhouse track and playground for free.

The facility will be available to residents at no cost “when the local Air Quality Health Index is of 7 or greater,” the city wrote on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: This photo named "Back on Track" is a US Air Force Photo from: https://jenikirbyhistory.getarchive.net/amp/media/back-on-track-c852a9



Screenshot of Phoenix Fire video

Ice cold IV bags and body bags used to treat overheated patients

Firefighters in Phoenix, Arizona, are using IV bags cooled on ice to treat patients with heatstroke, according to the Phoenix.Gov Newsroom. As a result of the extreme temperatures, Phoenix Fire has seen an increase in 911 calls. July 18th 2023 it was recorded to be the 19th consecutive day when temperatures hit at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit / 43 C. Watch the video here

According to the BBC, officials have said Arizona hospitals have been using body bags filled with ice to cool down some patients who have overheated.



Pixabay Free License. https://pixabay.com/fi/photos/heart-attack-sairaus-terveytt%C3%A4-7479253/Firefighters health: AI model from NIST able to predict potential cardiac arrest in firefighters

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have used a form of AI known as machine learning to accurately identify abnormal cardiac rhythms in firefighters.

The research team claims that once the AI model was familiar with firefighter-specific medical data, it was able to identify 6,000 abnormal ECG samples with 97% accuracy, reports FireRescue1.com. 

According to the article, most deaths for firefighters on duty are not directly caused by fire or smoke inhalation. As much as approximately 40% of on-duty fatalities reportedly come from sudden cardiac events, leading to cardiac arrest. READ MORE


Original article published on July 10, 2023


Goat landing on Bozeman Fish Technology Center.  Photo credit: Eli Cureton / USFWS

Prevention: Goats are removing fuel in "targeted grazing strategy"

In California several counties have started a cooperative project where they are buying hundreds of goats to clear land of underbrush to prevent the spread of wildfires

California is investing heavily in wildfire prevention after the state was ravaged by several years of destructive fires which have burned millions of acres, destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people. Goats have been used to clear fuels around Lake Oroville, along Highway 101. 

Targeted grazing is part of California’s strategy to reduce wildfire risk, according to AP News. 

Goats can eat a wide variety of vegetation and graze in steep, rocky terrain that’s hard to access.  Goats are also providing similar services in Chile, according to Reuters. 

Photo credit: Eli Cureton / USFWS


A Kita Manure tank "Star 1500" on sale on Autolius.Lt
A Kita Manure tank "Star 1500" on sale on Autolius.Lt

Extinguishing: Farmers are converting manure equipment into fire sprinklers

In southern Sweden, the National Federation of Farmers (LRF.se) are working more and more in cooperation with fire services to provide equipment to help in forest fires. In the county of Småland alone, 200 farmers are on standby to help, as reported by Swedish Television.  

Farmers have intimate knowledge of the land and can help firefighters in many ways. They are offering diggers to help after areas have burned, and they can help pull hoseline with their 4X4 motorcycles. The most common way they are helping is with water supply: Fertilizer  tanks are transported into strategic places for the creation of fire lanes. Water is then spread in the same way as manure would be. 

According to Peråke Nilsson, who initiated the project in Småland county, manure tanks used on both sides of a road can sprinkle a fire line with a width of 100 - 150 meters / 300 - 500 feet.   


Photo by PH Sphere
Photo by PH Sphere

Mental health: Canadian wildland firefighters receiving counselling after record fire season

After reportedly 8,8 million hectares of forested land had burned by the end of June 2023, firefighters across Canada are focusing more on mental health as wildfire seasons worsen. 

The non-profit Tema Foundation, has been counselling wildland firefighters working in Nova Scotia this year. The organization received 150 phone calls after advertising a campaign that included free crisis counselling for firefighters, reports the CBC.ca. Colleen Kamps, a psychotherapist with the organisation,  said one firefighter with more than 20 years of experience told her that while he can still handle his job, at times this season he has not been able to stop crying.


Iced towels
Commercial photo a towel freezer (not associated with the article) by Rocky Mountain Oils. 

Heatwaves: Mobile freezers to help deal with heat strokes & heat exhaustion:

In Arizona, mobile rehab centers bring freezers full of ice and frozen towels to help firefighters recover in the heat. 

"We have frozen towels and cooling caps that can wrap around your head and vests which can be filled with frozen sleeves. There is plenty of water, freezers with ice packs and someone on the scene monitoring the firefighters", says Captain Dave Folio, who 's goal is to completely eliminate heat stroke and heat exhaustion among staff this summer. 


Evacuation from the Fort McMurray fire in northern Canada in 2016. Wikipedia Commons license.
Photo from the massive and sudden evacuation of Fort McMurray in 2016. Wikipedia Commons License

Changing tactics: Northern Europe starting to expect loss of structures and lives - adopts Canadian scale of fire risk

In northern Sweden, fire services are changing their scale for fire risk, adopting the Canadian model . Sweden so far has been able to dodge situations involving large losses of lives and structures from wildfires. However, in 2023, the country now so dry that they are preparing for a much more intense fire season counting on the need for mass evacuations of towns near the urban wildlife interface.  

Canada has historically had problems with towns and smaller cities being destroyed by wildfire. Nowadays, such risks also exist in Sweden, according to the emergency services.

The city of Fort McMurrey in Northern Canada suffered a major disaster in the spring of 2016 when a massive wildfire destroyed 2,400 buildings and caused multi-billion dollar damage. Over 80,000 people were evacuated, and many travellers took great risks travelling on the highway south, with strong radiant heat from the fires threatening to strand fleeing motorists. In 2021, the town of Lytton, BC was destroyed during the June-July Heat Dome. 

"We have to take that (risk) seriously", says Mats Bergmark at the rescue service in  the county of Medelpad to Swedish Television, Svt.se. 


Guardian water sprinkler tower.COURTESY OF GRAHAM KEELEY
Guardian water sprinkler tower.COURTESY OF GRAHAM KEELEY

Innovations in technology:


Gigantic sprinkler towers protect towns in Spain

Already in the summer of 2022, CTIF.org wrote about two Spanish towns near Valencia who installed giant sprinklers for urban protection against wildfires. 

According to an article in Wired magazine, these were the largest defense systems against wildfires in Europe in 2022.

The so called Guardian Towers are 24 meters / 79 feet tall, and they are now in operation in each of the two towns of Ribarroja and Paterna in the Valencia region of Spain.  Both towns have, according to the article, installed 40 of these towers surrounding their town centers. 

The giant water towers will act as sprinklers, taking some of the heat and energy from a nearby wildfire, with the intent of preventing ignition of town buildings.

The towers will also hydrate nearby vegetation so that trees and shrubs will be more fire resistant.  


A "dragon egg" seen safely igniting on the ground. Screenshot from Drone Amplified YouTube video.
A "dragon egg" seen safely igniting on the ground. Screenshot from Drone Amplified YouTube video. 

Prescribed burns initiated chemically by "fire bombs" dropped from drones

In November 2022, CTIF.org wrote about a new drone technology used initiate prescribed burns. Small "Dragon Eggs" containing potassium permanganate are dropped from the air to create precise controlled burns form remote controlled drones. 

According to the founder of the start-up company behind the technology, Drone AmplifiedCarrick Detweiler, the idea is to help firefighters avoid the efforts of needing to hike or ride an all-terrain vehicle through dense forest or mountainous terrain, carrying a drip torch to start small fires in remote locations.

The article on CTIF.org about the technology has received a lot of interest from our readers. However,  we are still looking to hear from fire services who have used it what their experiences are. 






Contact us to let us know what is happening in your area!

This article is a " evolving article / living document" and we will add more information as it comes in. If you have tips of interesting innovations, tactics and policies brought on by the escalating wildfire situation, please write to the editor of CTIF News.  To get in touch with the CTIF Forest Fire Commission, please go to this contact form. 


Photo Credits: 

Cover photo: (Above) A promotional photo from  Drone Amplified, a US start-up company making drones especially intended for initiating prescribed burns chemically by air.   


Generic forest fire photo provided by  PHSphere.com
The free high-resolution photo of forest, fire, hell, smoke, wildfire, atmospheric phenomenon, sky, natural environment, tree, atmosphere, event, geological phenomenon, haze, cloud, landscape, hill
@Nikolay Kondev, taken with an DMC-FZ1000 09/06 2019 The picture taken with 31.0mm, f/3.8s, 1/500s, ISO 125
The image is released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.
You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.


Goat landing on Bozeman Fish Technology Center
Photo credit: Eli Cureton / USFWS Mountain-Prairie
On June 8 at 5:00 p.m., 409 yearling domestic goats were off-loaded on the Bozeman Fish Technology Center (BFTC) campus. Thus begins a 3-4 year project of monitored targeted grazing and applications of friendly insects to control noxious weeds and manage brush overgrowth on property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service BFTC.
Purposes of this effort are to reduce the presence of undesirable vegetation, promote restoration of native plants, and assist with fire protection by reducing burnable plant biomass.
The cooperative venture involves the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Outdoor Science School, Friends of the Bozeman Fish Technology Center, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, U.S. Forest Service, and Prescriptive Livestock Services. Integrated Weed Control is supplying the insects as an in-kind contribution to the project, and has applied insects on the BFTC’s "hot spots" in previous years. See original post