City near Austin to install automatic wildfire detection system

FireWatch AmericaThe City Council of West Lake Hills, near Austin, Texas, has approved the purchase of a camera system to detect wildfires. The FireWatch devices mounted on towers are designed to detect smoke within 6 miles by rotating their sensors, completing a 360-degree rotation every 8 to 12 minutes, during which it takes images, analyzes, and then transmits those images for secondary analysis. If possible fire events are detected, the system alerts fire authorities.

West Lake Hills, with a population of about 3,000, is described on Wikipedia as a wealthy suburb on the west side of Austin.

The City Council has set aside $200,000 for the purchase and installation of the camera system. The city of Austin and Travis County are also considering the acquisition of the devices.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

2 thoughts on “City near Austin to install automatic wildfire detection system

  1. Interesting that a city is installing a fire-watching system for $200,000 plus towers. I wonder what a human powered system would cost? But of course $200,000 for a camera is much cheaper than providing jobs for college aged kids with binoculars.

    • The towers to be utilized by the camera system are the cell towers, in place, at no cost to the city.
      Research the wildfire risk in Travis County 2013.

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