Drones starting fires on purpose in Victoria

Forest Fire Management Victoria is using drones for backburning in hard to reach locations.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Aerworx

A 3,000 hectare burn in the Wimmera region of Victoria has been used as a trial for using drones to start backburns.

The test, conducted by Forest Fire Management Victoria, involved rigging the drones with aerial incendiaries to start the burn and allowed humans to avoid making their way across creeks and thick vegetation.

The use of drones was said to increase accuracy of the burn too.

"By continuing to improve our practices and trial new technology, we are able to deliver a more effective planned burning program to protect communities and the environment from bushfires," Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio said.

"Climate change and more extreme weather events are changing the nature of bushfires, so it's important we take action now to minimise risk to human life and our native wildlife."

Earlier this week, NSW announced it would equip firefighters with AU$57 million worth of new bushfire-fighting equipment including drones, cells on wheels, and vehicles with built-in Wi-Fi.

In this instance, the drones will be used to provide imagery and for chemical and gas detection.

On Wednesday, the Minderoo Foundation said it would use satellite technology and predicative analytics in an effort to see bushfires extinguished within an hour by 2025.

"We need to see the fire. We need to have the mapping, the data, the Earth observation. We need to know the risk in the landscape before the fire occurs. We need to have sensors in place with the mapping," Minderoo Foundation Fire and Flood Resilience initiative lead Lee Goddard said.

"If I can detect, potentially in the military, a flare going off in North Korea and a periscope coming out of the water one metre in the middle of the Indian Ocean, then these technologies need to be transferred and transferred as soon as practicable," he said.

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