How new technology is changing the game for forest firefighting in B.C.

By Jennifer Van Evra
BC Business Magazine
July 5, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Mathieu Bourbonnais

Mathieu Bourbonnais, a former wildland firefighter, helped create some technology that can predict wildfires. “I was checking all my sensors, and the McDougall Creek fire burned about 15 of them,” says Bourbonnais, now a researcher and assistant professor of earth, environmental and geographic sciences at UBC Okanagan. “Seeing that, it was pretty obvious that once the fire got going, it was going to jump the lake.” Those sensors, which Bourbonnais and his UBCO team are developing in partnership with Rogers, could be a game-changer in BC. Acting as an early warning system, they are essentially small, low-cost weather stations that can be deployed across remote locations where they can monitor conditions—like air temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, soil moisture and soil temperature. Using cellular or satellite networks, the real-time data can be transmitted to anyone from local fire services to forestry companies, and from utilities to First Nations.

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