Gazette articles about firefighting technology in Colorado

Ryan Maye Handy, who has written for Wildfire Today, has crafted three articles for the Colorado Springs Gazette about advances in wildfire management technology that the state of Colorado is adopting. One is about the PC-12 fixed wing aircraft (which we have covered at Fire Aviation) that the state is purchasing. Another focuses on the inability to find, for many hours, the reported smoke that later developed into the disastrous Waldo Canyon fire that killed two people and destroyed 347 homes in Colorado Springs. The PC-12s, or any aircraft for that matter, probably could have detected the smoke and facilitated a much quicker initial attack on the fire.

The third article is about mapping fires with thermal sensors, and quotes Phil Riggan, a U.S. Forest Service research ecologist and thermal imaging pioneer based in Riverside, California. Below is an excerpt:

…Since 2001, Riggan has been part of the push to modernize firefighting by mixing on-the-ground firefighting with thermal images of wildfires. While the Forest Service uses a NIROPS flight, short for National Infrared Operations, to make passes over large fires once a day, Riggan advocates for real-time maps.

“If you are on one side of the fire, you don’t really know what’s going on on the other,” he said. “There’s just a lot of confusion that goes on. It’s really important that we try to move into a more modern stance here on fire information.”

Riggan, who has worked for years on a thermal imaging product called FireImager for the Forest Service, is not alone in his thinking. Last week, the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control signed contracts for two aircraft designed to capture thermal images of fires and upload them immediately into a statewide computer system that can feed to firefighters’ smartphones or tablets.

Wildfire Today welcomes Ryan Maye Handy

Over the next few days our site visitors will have the pleasure of reading some articles written by a professional writer whose day job is a newspaper reporter. Ryan Maye Handy will be helping us out at times, contributing content on an as-needed basis. We would like to welcome Ryan to the website!

We had been aware of her coverage of wildland fires for a couple of years but met her for the first time at the Large Wildland Fires Conference in Missoula in May where she put on a very well received presentation on The Timeline of Media Manipulation during and after a Large Scale Wildfire.

Ryan currently works for the Fort Collins Coloradoan as the newspaper’s environment and public lands reporter. She was formerly the wildfire reporter for The Gazette, in Colorado Springs, where she covered the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires, the two most destructive wildfires in Colorado history.

Recently she has written an article on the second anniversary of the Waldo Canyon fire, as well as traveled to Montana to cover the Large Wildland Fires Conference.