Skip to main content

KABC: Pilot program may change how firefighters combat wildfires in SoCal

Excerpted from abc7

By Jessica De Nova

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (KABC) -- Leaders in the Southern California firefighter community demonstrated a tool they say could be the future of wildfire combat during a press conference Monday.

The Fire Integrated Real Time Intelligence System (FIRIS) is a 150-day pilot program funded with $4.5 million from a state grant secured by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

FIRIS consist of a camera on a turboprop aircraft, which provides real-time and infrared video to decision makers on the ground within five minutes arriving over a fire.

The livestream is available in Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura counties. Fire crews can access the video on their phones or tablets, know the fire perimeter and give firefighters on the ground better direction in their suppression efforts.

The information from the program also goes to the University of California San Diego's WiFire super computer, which can then predict the fire growth over the next six hours.

FIRIS has already been put to use in the Tenaja Fire earlier this month.

The Fire Chief of the Orange County Fire Authority, Brian Fennessy, said the livestream could one day be available to the public.

"We are having that discussion now. Before we take that leap, we want to make sure the tech is reliable and is working. It is so far, but we're less than a month in," Fennessy said.

The pilot program goes through the end of January.