Fighting Wildfires with Satellite-Cellular Technology

The destructiveness of a fire can be devastating. Lives are lost. Prized possessions are destroyed. Whether caused by dry conditions, mechanical sparks or human negligence, the wrath comes at a very large price.

The "WASP In A Box (WIAB)" shows a flow meter, hydrant valve, and SkyWave terminal.

The “WASP In A Box (WIAB)” shows a flow meter, hydrant valve, and SkyWave terminal.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard they try, emergency workers do not have the manpower to manage a growing fire or must evacuate for safety reasons before a fire is out. Building on the idea of Darrell Pyke, a veteran wildland firefighter in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, Wasp Manufacturing Ltd. developed the Wildfire Automated Suppression and Protection Equipment, also known as WASP.

The system includes a mobile trailer containing hoses and sprinklers that are on a mobile platform. The SkyWave IDP satellite/cellular terminals allow remote operations of fire protection and suppression equipment. Combining the technologies provides fire personnel with 360 degree visibility regardless of where a fire is blazing.

One example of how WASP is protecting a community from structural damage in the event of a wildfire is Peachland Fire and Rescue Service, located in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. The system includes a trailer containing over 1500’ of hose and sprinklers paired with SkyWave IDP dual-mode terminals that allow the equipment to be operated remotely and offsite. From a cell phone or laptop anywhere in the world the fire department can operate the system, programming it to turn on or off as needed.

The Peachland unit was tested in July of 2014 when it was deployed to protect a mobile home park during the West Kelowna fire. Over 1,200 homes were evacuated during this fire, and the mobile home park was on the front line, with only one road in and out of the area. Once the sprinklers were set up, the firefighters were able to leave the dangerous area and operate the system via a laptop computer at a safe location. The fire approached within 100 meters of the properties, but not a single home was lost.

With SkyWave-based technology on board, WASP is moving toward the vision to become the largest supplier of remotely operated equipment to battle wildfires.

Read more in Fire Apparatus Magazine

Sue Rutherford

As the Vice President of Marketing for ORBCOMM, Ms. Rutherford is responsible for advancing the strategic direction of ORBCOMM marketing and its leading satellite/cellular products and services portfolio. She has more than two decades of global technology marketing expertise in the telecommunications, software, SaaS and industrial automation industries.

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