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Satellite system offers instant communication during forest fires

The Story

When fire strikes, every second counts in the fight to contain it. That's why a new satellite communications system in Alberta is a great improvement on the old UHF radio network. Now, 91 lookout stations can contact the province's fire centre instead of relying on district offices to relay messages. As CBC News reports, solar-powered mobile uplinks connect every lookout to a satellite that bounces messages to the fire centre. 

Medium: Television
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: Oct. 16, 2002
Guest(s): Dennis Driscoll, Greg Humphreys, Chet Perry
Reporter: Rick Donker
Duration: 2:06

Did You know?

• The satellite system in Alberta, dubbed Firenet, offers two-way communication between Alberta's 91 lookouts, 11 district fire command centres and the provincial firefighting centre.
• The company that built and maintains Firenet is Pathcom Wireless of Cochrane, Alta. The company specializes in remote communications and operates a satellite teleport that supports remote satellite units for the oil and gas and forestry industries. It also supports remote Internet access and point-of-sale systems like Interac.

• Satellites orbiting Earth are useful in fighting forest fires in several different ways. Photographs taken from space show where the fires are and where smoke is blowing. Firefighters use the Global Positioning System, made possible by satellites, to race to the exact site of a blaze. In Brazil, satellite photographs help authorities spot and crack down on illegal burning of the rain forest.



Fighting Forest Fires more