A member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Michael D. Antonovich, has what he feels is the solution to the wildfire problem: an automated fire detection system. According to the LA Times, Supervisor Antonovich stated:
The goal of a technology-based system would be to identify new fires as they start and have a programmed airborne response within minutes to suppress the fire before it spreads.
This brings up two issues:
1. Automated fire detection
There is nothing wrong with the concept of an automated fire detection system, in fact there are a number of them up and running around the world, primarily in very remote areas. But the detection of fires in a county with a population of almost 10 million is not the problem. I would venture a guess that with the millions of cell phones in L. A. County, that all fires are reported within minutes.
2. “Airborne response within minutes to suppress the fire before it spreads”
(Sigh) It appears that this is just another politician that thinks aircraft put out fires. The fire agencies already have a “programmed airborne response”. Under certain weather and fuel conditions, and when appropriate, aerial fire resources are dispatched along with ground units. And it takes boots on the ground to suppress a fire.
The L. A. County Board of Supervisors at their meeting today will consider Supervisor Antonovich’s proposal, and if accepted, the county’s Quality and Productivity Commission would be directed to study options and report back in four months.
We are tagging this as a lame-ass idea.
UPDATE @ 4:10 p.m. January 13:
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Board of Supervisors did decide yesterday to pursue the concept, and instructed the county’s Quality and Productivity Commission to look for technology that could detect wildfires so that they could be “put out within minutes of starting”. Their report is due in May.