FireGuard Saves Lives, Mitigates Property Damage
by U.S. Air Force photo by Mr. John Rohrer
The Colorado and California National Guard
have a new way to save lives and mitigate property damage from
wildfires called FireGuard.
satellites and incorporating civilian resources from the National
Interagency Fire Center, the National Geospatial-Intelligence
Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service, service members can detect
wildfires, notify authorities, and create products that can be
disseminated to firefighting networks nationwide.
September 15, 2022 - U.S. Army SGT Joseph Flores, intelligence specialist, 157th Infantry Battalion, Colorado Springs, currently assigned to the Task Force FireGuard team, is analyzing the environmental factors in the area of an ongoing wildfire. Utilizing National Weather Service, National Interagency Fire Center and Spot Forecast Monitoring sites to support emergency wildfire services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mr. John Rohrer)
One of the most critical components in
saving lives and property during rapidly escalating fires is being
able to make decisions based upon accurate and reliable situational
awareness,” Director, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and
Control, Mike Morgan said.
FireGuard teams work around the
clock to keep a constant eye on rugged, often inaccessible terrain
across the country. Analysts then create polygons, a system of
drawing on a map to visually represent the movement of fires based
on atmospheric, geographical, fuel sources, and topographic data.
These polygons are then disseminated to local authorities in
real-time to provide critical information to conduct evacuations and
accurately allocate resources in an ever-evolving wildfire.
During the 2021 Marshall Fire in Boulder County,
Colorado, that burned more than 6000 acres, high winds prevented
normal procedures of manned overflight. The FireGuard team provided
the only products available to partners during the initial eight
hours of the incident. This facilitated the evacuation of 35,000
people, saving lives in the process.
Morgan stated that
without the information provided by Task Force FireGuard,
situational awareness at all levels would have been significantly
“Over the last two years, the FireGuard program has
generated more than 47,000 geospatial products on more than 3,500
fires across the United States,” Intelligence Unit Chief, Colorado
Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Peter Vidmar said. “This
speaks both to the persistent nature of FireGuard support and the
scale of the fire problem across the country. With more extreme
weather conditions, the increase in Wildland-Urban Interface
exposure, and the concept of a fire year instead of a fire season,
the early clarity and situational awareness that FireGuard provides
helps fill a capability gap.”
The National Guard is uniquely
fitted to support the FireGuard mission due to the special training
and classification requirement of the job.
become an integral part of our domestic operations portfolio,” CONG
Chief of the Joint Staff U.S. Army Col. William DiProfio said. “Our
Task Force is providing early detection of wildfires on a national
level, something that hasn’t existed until now.”
FireGuard team has had many instances of discovering a fire before
911 calls come in and has proven to be more accurate and detailed
than the information from ‘eyes on’ reporting.
FireGuard is meant to be an additional layer of notification, not a
replacement to the 911 system, it is typically the best method of
discovering fires in remote areas where humans may not be present,”
FireGuard is a testament to how blending
military and civilian resources can improve the lives of community
members around the nation by saving lives and preventing loss of
property, a core mission of the National Guard.
impactful to know that you can walk outside and see the smoke column
of the fire you are providing critical updates for, as was the case
for the Marshall fire,” Vidmar said.
According to DiProfio,
the National Guard is Always Ready, Always There to respond to
requests for support from local first responders who need to react
quickly to disasters such as floods, tornadoes and wildfires
especially when they exceed civilian capabilities.
is changing the game when it comes to early fire detection and
real-time tracking which has resulted in a much more effective way
of preventing loss of life and property in Colorado, California, and
around the country,” DiProfio said.
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