National Park pilots automatic wildfire detection system to protect landscape and livestock.
Northumberland National Park Authority is working with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service and TMS Europe Ltd to trial an automated detection system designed to give early warning of wildfires. The pilot – the first of its kind in the UK – will take place on the Debdon Hills, near Rothbury, overlooking the Simonside Special Area of Conservation, which is designated for high level protection due to the important habitat and species found there.
The project has been made possible thanks to a grant from Northumberland Uplands Leader through its independent local panel, the NULeader Local Action Group.
Dry springs and summers, like the long period of drought this year, have led to a number of wildfires across the heather moorland of the National Park in recent years. During wildfire events the peat soils, which have taken thousands of years to establish, can catch fire and burn down to the bedrock. They are irreplaceable, along with the forest, heather, game and wildlife that live on them. Wildfires are also a significant risk to rural businesses, livestock and to the health and well-being of local populations near by.
The Automatic Wildfire Detection System to be piloted is an innovative method based on a hybrid system presently used in waste bunkers of inflammable materials (mandatory in Germany). Results will demonstrate its effectiveness for providing an early warning.
TMS Europe Ltd with its infrared camera specialist, DIAS Infrared GmbH, for whom it is the UK agent and distributor, has been awarded the contract to supply and install the fully functioning automatic detection system for wildfires. The infrared cameras and equipment will be mounted on an existing mast and will be capable of detecting wildfires to a distance of 5 miles from the mast (giving a theoretical coverage of over 50,000 acres from one camera). Any detection of heat will trigger an alarm and an operator from a remote site will train the infrared camera and live view camera on the identified area to determine if it’s a wildfire before contacting the Fire and Rescue Services.
The detection system will be located in a particularly harsh outdoor environment and is designed to withstand conditions with temperature variations between -20°C and +35°C with wind speeds exceeding 140Km/h, rain, snow, hail, dust and insects etc. TMS Europe Ltd with DIAS Infrared GmbH will provide training and on-going support to the National Park Authority and its partner agencies in the use and administration of the system.
The results of the tests will be shared with local, national and international stakeholders through a variety of different means and events. If successful, the possibility of expanding the system to cover a larger geographical area of Northumberland National Park will be considered, and there will be a wide range of applications for the system across the UK and abroad.
Jennifer Hewitson, Project Coordinator, said:
“In an area of high landscape and habitat value it’s important that we take steps to lessen the impact of hotter drier summers and the increasing risk of wildfire. Taking timely steps to avoid such extreme events, can mean the difference between recovery and tragedy. This pilot adds to the excellent portfolio of collaborative projects that have been implemented between NNPA and NFRS.”
Andrew Miller, Head of Programmes and Conservation for the National Park Authority said:
“The Fire and Rescue Service has been working with us and other key agencies, farmers and gamekeepers for several years. Anything we can do to make their service to people, businesses and the natural environment in the upland areas more efficient and cost effective is a good investment. We are impressed with the TMS detection system and hope it will provide a solution, not just for Northumberland National Park but whether the natural environment is at risk.”
Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group was established by Northumberland National Park Authority with the aim of directing European Leader funds into the North East upland rural economy through an independent panel of community champions – the Local Action Group. The NU Leader area covers 3,042 km2 of Northumberland from the River South Tyne to the River Till. Since its inception, NULAG has aided 76 community and business enterprises with £1,985,000 of grant funding, helping to bring £2.3 million of match funding into the region and creating 30.5 new jobs.
Northumberland National Park Authority is lead partner and host for NULAG at its base in Rothbury.
Frances Whitehead, Communications Officer
Northumberland National Park Authority
Tel direct: 01434 611542 Tel main: 01434 605555
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