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Finding water sources to combat fires in rural areas is often challenging. Conventional mapping methods – paper maps, for example – provide little information about where useful firefighting water sources are located. Reservoirs and small lakes may be depicted on maps, but these only make up a portion of what is readily available to fight fires. Lakes or reservoirs may be miles away from where firefighting support is required, and can be difficult to reach if smoke and fire conditions are severe. Swimming pools, water towers, and ponds on residential property – all of which could be within a few hundred feet of firefighter activity – are not mapped on conventional maps.

We specialize in high-resolution imaging and targeting of water sources on the ground. With our customized aircraft, we fly over large areas from 5,000 feet and take high resolution images. Through sophisticated image analysis, we identify and locate water sources on the ground as small as 150 gallons. We then develop the latitude, longitude, nearest address, and estimated capacity of these water sources.

Fire missions are time-critical. So how can you use this data on the go?  We have developed an in-cab, easy to use GPS integration system that allows firefighters navigate to nearby water sources in real time. Our data, which includes location and target information, is easily moved to GPS devices from a computer in minutes. Our data structure is supported by many common brands of GPS including Garmin and Magellan.

Our water source data interfaces not only with GPS devices, but with many computer-based software solutions including Google Earth, ArcGIS, and AutoCAD. All of these programs allow for interactive viewing of data. Since our data is also provided in tabular format, data can be merged with existing databases of water sources.

Keeping a crew at a fire site is aided if the crew can utilize all nearby water sources. Using our targeted water sources out in the field could the difference between containing a fire and a fire consuming more land and property.

Here is a sample of a water source located on a hillside near Bonny Doon (Santa Cruz County, California):

Click on the image to expand

Here is the attribute table generated by our analytical staff. This can be exported to any GPS system for in-cab use.

Target-Lat Target-Lon PhotoLon PhotoLat Altitude TargetID Type Gallons TimeStamp Picture
36.98343472 -121.8697325 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 A Tank 4000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98406203 -121.8679079 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 B Tank 500 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98444872 -121.86358 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 C Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98408217 -121.8643525 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 D Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98368516 -121.8648555 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 E Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.9843354 -121.8649779 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 F Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98554748 -121.864337 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 G Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98493863 -121.8580279 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 H Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98683636 -121.8632747 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 I Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98619029 -121.8646055 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 J Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg
36.98765969 -121.8688044 -121.864 36.98598 5688.566 K Pool 3000 7/23/2008 21:05 1E3V6842.jpg


Here is the visual representation of the water sites using Google Earth as the map layer:

Click on the image to expand

With a single click all of the data is available to the user - this is also available for ArcGIS applications:

Click on the image to expand


Fire support surveys are modestly priced; call us for an estimate today! 510 889 1453

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Last modified: 04/29/09