Cal Fire credits NCIS’ help at Shockey Fire
As Cal Fire fully contained the 2,851 acre Shockey Fire near the community of Campo on Thursday, firefighters credited new technology that helped with the incident.
For the past year, firefighters have been aided by the development of a new project called Next Generation Incident Command System, or NICS. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is funding the technology, developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Labs with participation from Cal Fire. Especially this year with the increased fire activity, Cal Fire has been the perfect test bed for the new technology, said agency officials.
“NICS provided me real-time information about the fire’s location and size so that I could effectively deploy equipment and personnel on the fire,” said Battalion Chief Ray Chaney, Cal Fire Incident Management Team 6 incident commander. “This technology allows us the ability to see real-time data and share it among all our field commanders.”
NICS is a web-based command and control program designed for use on large-scale wildfires and emergencies. It allows collaboration across all levels of government including federal, state, tribal, military, and local levels and also allows personnel in the field to send data back electronically to base camp using any computer, operating system, or browser. This allows the fire’s location and perimeter to be mapped far more quickly, reported Cal Fire.
This tool also identifies potential hazards for firefighters, which can then be shared with emergency personnel on the ground simultaneously. In addition to improving safety, this application provides critical data to planning and GIS mapping personnel back at base camp much faster than in the past, according to a statement from Cal Fire. Real-time information can be gathered, reducing data collection time from 12 hours to 12 minutes.
During the Shockey Fire, the technology was successful in transmitting data more rapidly from the fire lines to base camp for mapping and planning purposes. Incident commanders were able to utilize this information to pinpoint where resources should be deployed for maximum efficiency.
While Cal Fire continues to pilot the NICS program, the project may prove to be a successful product nationwide that will improve firefighting efficiency and safety. This type of public/private partnership is proving to be a valuable tool to obtain enhanced results that neither partner could achieve on their own, noted Cal Fire.
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