Saskatchewan replacing fire lookouts with cameras

Saskatchewan lookout tower
Saskatchewan lookout tower. CTV News

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment is phasing out fire lookout towers staffed with humans to detect fires and replacing them with cameras.

About 38 seasonal positions will be lost when the government switches to camera systems. The provincial government says the installation of the equipment, which should be operational by April of 2014,  will cost $1.5 million.

Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff says the switch will save money. However, he maintains the primary issue is safety.

“These towers are 80 to 90 feet high,” Cheveldayoff said Thursday. “There’s a safety issue if they’re single-manned that if something was to happen, if that individual was able to slip or something like that, it could be dire consequences.”

Saskatchewan lookout tower
Saskatchewan lookout tower. Photo by Government of Saskatchewan.

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. Google+

4 thoughts on “Saskatchewan replacing fire lookouts with cameras”

  1. I wonder how many single-manned lookouts have had a safety issue. Someone has to monitor the cameras. Have they doubled the cost of maintaining a lookout?

  2. I recall seeing a similar set-up at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Roseburg several years ago. Also, the French have had these units for many years as well. Not a new idea, just new in the great frozen North.

  3. The software does most of the work with watching for subtle changes in the images. Douglas Forest Protection Association in Roseburg can monitor 20+ of these in one location with one person monitoring. I hate to see lookouts go due to the nostalgia and history of them but this is very efficient and cost effective over time.

  4. I’d hate to see the lookouts go. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve used them as a relay to dispatch when you can’t get in contact with them.

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