The fire danger rating throughout most of British Columbia is currently rated at low or very low, but that isn’t stopping the provincial wildfire service from gearing up for what could be a busy July and August.
On Sunday, B.C. Wildfire announced that it will be conducting trials of night-vision goggles near Penticton on Monday and Tuesday to potentially assist with possible night-time firefighting operations.
“The trials will assess the viability of using night-vision goggles and helitankers to drop fire suppressant on wildland-urban interface fires at night,” said the wildfire service, adding the work will expand on night-vision goggle testing that was done in 2019.
“The tests will increase the B.C. Wildfire Service’s knowledge of night-vision goggle helitanker protocols, including how night procedures would differ from daytime air operations.”
The wildfire service said if the results are positive and if the program is worth pursuing, these trials will help decide how to incorporate them into firefighting activities.
Testing will feature two aircraft for the trials, with multiple helitanker drops completed in a controlled environment, though no fires will be burning.
“Ground observers stationed outside of the drop zone will evaluate each drop for accuracy and effectiveness,” said the wildfire service.
“Any challenges identified on the first day of the trial will allow the test team to make adjustments and modify its approach on the second day.”
Facts from B.C. Wildfire Service information about night-vision goggles:
- Night vision goggles work by amplifying the available ambient light, making it easier for the wearer to see features that would not otherwise be visible.
- In 2019, night vision technology was tested on three trial flights over the Richter Mountain and Eagle Bluff wildfires. The goggles helped the aircrew map these incidents at night and identify hotspots to assist firefighters on the ground.
- Last year’s trials were the first of their kind in Canada and affirmed that additional trials were warranted to further explore the capabilities of night-vision systems to support wildfire suppression activities.
- Wildland-urban interface fires are wildfires that occur in areas where grasslands or forests border on urban developments or infrastructure.