Technology Tracks Crew Through the Fog of Wildfire (AUDIO)

From the Source:

"For crews fighting wildfires, the ability to get accurate information quickly is crucial. A breakdown in communication was one factor in a fire that killed 19 firefighters in Arizona last year, and in the deaths of two Florida firefighters in Arizona in 2011.

Florida officials hope to address some of those communication problems with a new tracking system designed to keep tabs on crews in the field.

The accident helped spur state officials to roll out an "asset tracking system" on Florida's bulldozers, trucks and other vehicles used to fight fires. The system uses radio tracking to follow the equipment, and a computer program then overlays the information onto satellite imagery, says Jim Karels, director of the Florida Forest Service..."

"'When everything is happening ... a lot of times the firefighters try very hard to keep their communications very short because they know the radio traffic is heavy,' he adds. 'And sometimes by doing that they miss the opportunities to thoroughly communicate what they need to.'

The tracking system, on the other hand, can transmit important information in real time, without the need for voice communication."

  Above: "Crews work a controlled burn in Geneva, Fla., in December. The state's forest service has rolled out a system to track equipment during fires, and hopes it can eventually be used to pinpoint firefighters, too." - NPR

Above: "Crews work a controlled burn in Geneva, Fla., in December. The state's forest service has rolled out a system to track equipment during fires, and hopes it can eventually be used to pinpoint firefighters, too." - NPR