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How fire cameras keep communities safe

Two firefighters aim a hose and spray water at a blazing fire.

Fire cameras help detect fires before they spread out of control, aid investigations and keep firefighters safer

Fires are difficult to predict. They can spark under any number of circumstances, and once lit, they can quickly grow out of control. Fighting fires requires an incredible amount of knowledge and coordination – and as first responders face increasing numbers of wildfires across the globe, they need all the help they can get.

Fire cameras are a powerful tool in the firefighter’s kit. They can help detect fires before they spread out of control. They can aid teams in keeping large or complex fires manageable and help them investigate each fire's cause to further bolster preventative efforts. And they’re also crucial in keeping first responders safe. The following are just a few illustrations of how indisposable fire cameras are.

Need more resources for your department? Read The ultimate guide to firefighter gear is 2024.

Fire cameras detect and prevent spread

Preventing the spread of any fire – whether a wildfire in a national forest or a blaze in a neighborhood – requires early detection and an understanding of where the fire is most likely to head as it spreads. Fire detector cameras help county and local fire departments view this information firsthand, allowing them to prepare and coordinate a response.

For example, active droughts in Butte County, CA, pushed responders to install a network of cameras throughout the region to aid early detection. These 360-degree cameras provide the fire department with 24/7 coverage of over 700 square miles of forest, transmitting the feed to a central emergency center and informing teams if changes in scenery occur. Thermal imaging helps these cameras detect changes in heat signatures at night. Usually, these response teams can only afford to staff fire watch stations during emergency conditions or dangerous times of the year. The implementation of this camera network now allows virtually constant, year-round coverage of the area.

Drone cameras also aid in the detection of wildfires, and assist in providing the intel needed to develop strategies to put them out. These drones keep responders out of harm’s way while providing views of an enormous area. According to a study conducted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a combination of Internet of Things sensors and a fleet of drones can detect fires smaller than a square mile with up to 99% accuracy. With this information, emergency departments can respond before fires grow too large to contain.

Axon Air drones are just one part of an effective fire response and investigation strategy. Learn more about how Axon’s range of hardware and software solutions form a holistic and scalable approach to controlling the spread of fire and keeping communities safe.

Keeping first responders safe

Cameras can do more than detect where fires or emergencies have occurred. They can keep first responders safe during transit as well as when they arrive on the scene.

Organizations like the Texas City Fire Department have begun implementing body-worn cameras to provide situational awareness for teams working on the ground. Even with the help of fire detector cameras and drones, the situation at the site of the fire or emergency often remains fluid, rapidly changing in unpredictable ways. The best body-worn cameras can livestream video feeds back to squad leaders, who can assess the full scope of a situation and provide strategic direction to individual responders.

Firefighters and first responders often have to interact with civilians, adding another layer of unpredictability to emergencies. Body-worn cameras help responders to de-escalate situations and reduce the ambiguity of events that may happen while resolving the crisis.

Fire departments have also been affixing cameras to trucks and other vehicles in their fleets to reduce the risk of accidents. Dash and rear cameras provide additional visibility for large fire trucks, greatly enhancing a driver’s field of vision. It also provides a record of events in case of a vehicle crash, reducing the likelihood of frivolous lawsuits – beneficial for mitigating the financial impact of one of the nearly 30,000 annual fire truck-involved collisions.

Enhancing training and investigation

There’s always a cause behind a fire. Sometimes, it’s an unfortunate spark from an electrical device or a combination of environmental factors. Others are a result of reckless burning or deliberate arson. Getting to the root cause requires evidence – and fire cameras can help there, too.

As firefighters use body-worn cameras to record their responses to fires and emergencies, they capture details that could later be used as evidence. Interactions with civilians, the way objects burn, where the fire is most concentrated and objects surrounding a fire’s origin point can all provide clues that could help determine who or what caused it. Keeping track of these details is difficult in the moment. However, after an incident, investigators can pore over these indisputable details thanks to recorded footage.

These video feeds can also provide training opportunities for new recruits. Trainees can view real-life footage and learn how seasoned professionals handle themselves under pressure, viewing what to do (or what not to do) in a given situation. Squad leaders can also view their team’s excursions to evaluate their response to emergencies, helping them improve for the next outing.

Uplevel your squad’s fire response readiness with Axon

Effective fire response requires a coordinated network of technology that can respond to ever-shifting conditions. Axon Fire Solutions is powerful enough for even the most extreme emergencies. Lead investigations and search and rescue efforts with first-rate Axon Air drone technology and arrive on the scene ready to assist with Axon Fleet 3 and Axon Body 4 cameras. Want to find out how Axon Fire Solutions can help prevent fires in your department’s community? Contact us today.