L.A. County Board of Supervisors has the solution to the wildfire problem

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.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

6 thoughts on “L.A. County Board of Supervisors has the solution to the wildfire problem”

  1. Electrical charges are built up by helicopters in flight and when they come down to do a hover hook-up with out grounding out first. They can knock the “Hooker” down with the shock, having seen and experience it, it’s a good jolt and a experience one does not want to repeat. But never have I seen it burn any one or start a fire for that matter. A shot from a taser is the same, knocks you down and silly for a few moments but no burn. The dust theory I will hold judgement on till science can prove it, perhaps a rural myth.

  2. There is a technology for this automatic detection of wildfire. Let a Mechanical Engineer design a sprinkler system with smoke detector for California. The only question is, are they really going to install sprinkler system all over California, just like the sprinkler system in a building? It will be a very big project even if it will just be installed in a selective fire hazard zone.

    Second option. One of the reasons for these wild fires is because when the wind blows with the dusts in it, it charges up an object. When this object discharges its electrical power, it creates a spark, like a small lightning, starting a wild fire. Detection of this object is two steps ahead of a wild fire because we can safely discharge it so that it will not create a wild fire or, if that kind of object is always charging up, ground it, so that it will not build up an electrical charge.

    1. Ray-

      You asked:

      ..are they really going to install sprinkler system all over California, just like the sprinkler system in a building?

      With a great deal of confidence, I will say the answer is NO.

      Thanks for writing in Ray, but until I hear of any scientific documentation of wind-blown dust charging up an object resulting in an electrical discharge that starts a wildfire, I will classify both of your suggestions as lame-ass ideas.


      1. I had not seen a scientific study about this Wildfire. Like, why in California, when the wind blows, usually wildfire start? But about this wind with dust charges an object, there is a similar study. The Dust Bowl, Dirty Thirties, or Dust Storm that happen in America, it was shown in History Channel. The wind with the dust, charges an object, that the buildup of electrical power is sufficient to knock a person down. The object that they tested was farm equipment with metal. The power to knock a person down is much much greater than the power needed to start a fire. Just like in the disposable electric cigarette lighter or the kitchen electric stove lighter. This lighters need a very small amount of power but it is use to start a fire.
        Waiting for scientific study of this wildfire is not a good idea. Because wildfire, just like in California it cost a lot of money and sometimes life. Wildfire is not just happening in California, it is all over the world. We are also spending a lot of money controlling or minimizing carbon in the air. Solving wildfire can also help minimize carbon in the air, the global warming thing. There are good reasons why a scientific study must be conducted to solve this wildfire.

  3. 2007’s Island Fire on Catalina Island is perfect example of aerial assets being extensively used without ground firefighters being available. Fire grew no matter how much water or retardant was dropped until ground forces arrived from the mainland and began to anchor the retardant lines. Air support is great…but only works in coordination with ground forces.

  4. Given that the open space area named for him was almost completely wiped out, I guess he has a vested interest.

    As for the technology–just another way to remove lazy humans from the equation again–and no doubt will be disasterous, since the lazy humans will be asleep or will ignore the warning.


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