Wildfire Detection

Wildfire Detection


FireALERT MK I (MK I) is a self-contained, early warning, wildfire detection sensor system that detects, analyses and wirelessly communicates the occurrence and position of a fire in real time. Once a fire has been detected, the MK I immediately transmits an alarm and continues to track and report on the fire’s progression. Developed in 2004 and placed into operation in early 2005, the MK I has provided over 8 years of operational performance in relatively severe environmental conditions.










The MK I offers a two-fold solution to fire mitigation:

  • Continuous monitoring of a fire outbreak within a critical fire-prone environment. Placing a MK I every square mile allows an alarm to be generated as soon as a small fire ignites anywhere within this monitored area. The received alarm will enable a dispatch center to quickly mobilize a coordinated response, thereby reducing the probability of this small fire growing into a devastating wildfire.
  • Continuous monitoring of the approach of a wildfire into a monitored area. With a detection range exceeding 1 mile, wildfires approaching a monitored area will trigger an alarm. The received alarm will facilitate the issuance of an immediate warning to the community and residents that will be threatened by this approaching wildfire. This can provide hours of advanced warning, enabling residents to initiate a series of pre-planned defensive actions or a pre-determined evacuation plan thereby averting a possible community wide disaster.

In less than four minutes, the MK I continuously performs the following actions:

  • Scans through a full 360 degree horizontal view
  • During this scan, locks on to any potential signatures that might be fire related
  • Extensively analyzes these signatures for the specific properties generated by a fire, well before a smoke plume forms
  • Rejects all signatures that do not provide a correct match
  • Immediately generates and sends an alarm when the signature matches that of a wildfire

The MK I employs Ambient’s proprietary energy harvesting technology to convert and store energy from light received by the systems integrated solar array. This energy, stored in non-battery based super capacitors, is used to power the system 24/7 and supports an operational life approaching 20 years with virtually no maintenance requirements.

The MK I’s fire detection system operates on the principal that heated vaporized fuel from a fire is dispersed into the surrounding atmosphere where it immediately reacts with oxygen and a flame chemical reaction takes place. The resulting radiated energy signal possesses a specific spectral pattern. Using a detector in conjunction with narrow band spectral filter, the MK I is able to detect the presence of this spectral pattern. The MK I employs an embedded smart processing system that continually analyzes data from the on-board fire detection sensor. It incorporates Ambient’s proprietary and patented Spectral Resonance Imaging (SRI) Scanner technology that scans a 360 degree horizontal field of view looking for highly specific fire signature products. In addition, proprietary and patented algorithms constantly adjust the MK I systems performance for changes in the environment, maintaining peak detection sensitivity over the systems full range of operation. This produces a level of data analysis that assures the occurrence of false alarms is reduced to an absolute minimum. As a result, the MK I is able to discriminate between fire signatures and those of various interference sources such as blackbody radiation, reflected sunlight or halogen light.  This entire fire signature detection and validation process is achieved in less than 4 minutes anywhere within the 360 degree horizontal field of view.

For installations, such as the perimeter of a campground, where a fire pit is deliberately located in the unit’s 360 degree field of view, the MK I can be programmed with a blind spot. The MK I will continue to monitor the blind spot but will not generate an alarm. If the fire in the fire pit gets out of hand and spreads past the blind spot, the MK I will generate an alarm. The MKI incorporates Global Positioning System (GPS) information. During a fire event, alarm transmissions include the units’ location along with the bearing of the fire.


FireALERT MK II (MK II) is currently under development. The MK II is being designed to include a number of enhancements over the MK I, the most significant of which will increase the fire detection range to a radius of at least six miles and add UV based detection for the recognition of power line arcing. The MK II will continue to build on its integration with MM to enable networked MK II’s to not only provide an initial alarm but also continuous geospatial mapping and progression tracking of the fire perimeter for either a single fire hot spot or for multiple concurrent events. The integration of the MK II detection hardware with MM’s mapping and communications capability will provide a tightly woven first responder solution to fire event management.  The MK II is expected to be ready for release in 2015.

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