Project no. Fp6-018505 Project Acronym fire paradox

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Project no. FP6-018505

Project Acronym FIRE PARADOX

Project Title FIRE PARADOX: An Innovative Approach of Integrated Wildland Fire Management Regulating the Wildfire Problem by the Wise Use of Fire: Solving the Fire Paradox

Instrument Integrated Project (IP)

Thematic Priority Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems

Deliverable 7.2-2-39

Assessment of the efficiency factors of wildfire detection systems for timely interventions in European countries

Due date of deliverable: Month 43

Actual submission date: Month 45

Start date of project: 1st March 2006 Duration: 48months

Organisation name of lead contractor for this deliverable: Centro de Ecologia Aplicada Baeta Neves (CEABN/ISA) (P01)

Revision (1000)

Project co-funded by the European Commission within the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006)

Dissemination Level





Restricted to other programme participants (including the Commission Services)


Restricted to a group specified by the consortium (including the Commission Services)


Confidential, only for members of the consortium (including the Commission Services)

Authors (example):







The authors thank the members of the Forest Fire Prevention Expert Group (WGFFP), a working group associated with the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) established by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission, who have contributed information for this document by kindly answering our questionnaire.

Executive Summary

In order to minimize the damages associated to wildfire is crucial to have, primarily, a good prevention. When this fails, a fast and accurate detection should help an efficient first-attack followed, if everything fails, by a strong fire-fighting.

This deliverable presents the results from 5 study cases of a questionnaire regarding fire detection, sent to the forest experts group of the European Community, Morocco and Tunisia. It also presents the analysis of fire detection efficiency in southwestern European countries.

In this work the official fire detection systems were divided in three major groups:

Terrestrial detection systems – fixed ground surveillance (lookout towers) and mobile ground surveillance (mobile brigades);

Aerial detection – helicopters, airplanes;

New technologies for fire detection – Infrared and video cameras, remote sensing, laser detection, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), satellites.

The questionnaire replies received until April 2008 includes 16 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Tunisia.

According to the questionnaire results, Austria is the only country that does not present any detection system. All the others fifteen countries use at least one of the mentioned detection systems. The most common detection systems are lookout towers, used by thirteen countries (87%), followed by the mobile brigades with eleven answers (73%). Also in the field of the terrestrial detection, seven countries (47%) have volunteer programs that complement the official terrestrial detection.

France, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia use video surveillance together with lookout towers networks.

The use of airplanes and helicopters for aerial vigilance is not very frequent. Only eight countries use airplanes and only Italy and Spain use helicopters for this purpose. Sweden is the only country that relies solely on airplanes for surveillance actions.

Although the different detections systems complement each other, just seven countries use both terrestrial and aerial systems.

While much research has been done in the past years, from fifteen countries merely France, Italy Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain utilize some new technologies to complement the traditional means. Most of these countries are using pilot projects to evaluate their efficiency. For instance, France is working with two projects, however one was terminated because of its unreliability. The second project is being tested, but still needs significant improvements before being made available for extensive use.

Spain is the country that is testing more new technologies have been implemented and, to our knowledge, the only one in Europe that use satellite imagery for meteorological prediction and hot spot detection; other countries also mentioned this system, but only to follow the development of a fire and to quantify the burnt area.

Wildfire detection in the Iberian Peninsula during the period 2001-2007 were mainly detected by the population (88% in Portugal and 56% in Spain). The official detection systems are still very important but play a secondary role, especially in Portugal, where they were responsible for only 12% of detected wildfires (44% in Spain). The ground fixed detection systems, mainly constituted by lookouts, were the main official detection system in both countries, being responsible for 11% and 28% of all fires detected in Portugal and Spain, respectively. However, it is interesting to notice that in Portugal the importance of lookouts was much higher if we consider the fires that resulted in large burned areas. At the national level, the ground mobile systems only have a relevant expression in Spain, where they were responsible for 16% of detections (less than 1% in Portugal), but like lookouts they can be much more important at the regional level. The aerial detection systems were responsible in both countries for less than 1% of all wildfire detections.

Table of contents:

1 Introduction 5

2 Official fire detection systems 5

2.1 Terrestrial detection systems 7

2.2 Aerial detection 9

2.3 New Technologies 10

3 Methods 13

4 Inquiry results and discussion 13

4.1 France Case study 14

4.2 Morocco Case Study 24

4.3 Poland Case Study 28

4.4 Portugal Case Study 35

4.5 Spain Case Study 42

4.6 Comparative analysis of the fire detection systems at the national scale 58

5 Analysis of Fire Detection Systems efficiency in southwestern europe 63

5.1 Temporal patterns of fire detections 64

5.2 Spatial patterns of fire detections 68

6 Conclusions 76

7 References 78

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