BC Wildfire Service testing night-vision goggles on aircraft

Fighting fires at night

The BC Wildfire Service is testing night-vision technology to fight fires after dark.

During the evenings of July 6-7, the BCWS conducted tests of helitankers using night-vision goggle technology near Penticton, which could potentially assist with future firefighting operations.

According to the BCWS, a helitanker - a helicopter equipped with a water tank - made drops on a contained campfire, which would allow the team to better evaluate the technology's effectiveness.

Turnaround times from loading to landing were similar to what it would have occurred during daytime operations, although turnaround times will vary by site and conditions present at the time.

Officials said ground crew feedback on the drops was beneficial, since the ground observers were at the same height as the drop targets and helped provide an accurate assessments of each drop.

A number of different drop heights and air speeds were tested successfully to achieve different objectives.

The next phase of the night vision trials will involve responding to an active wildfire, if possible. These trials will continue to refine operational procedures for NVG technology. The BC Wildfire Service will continue to look for opportunities to work with other vendors and test NVG technology for fire detection and other wildfire-related activities.

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