CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — The Fire Integrated Real-Time Intelligence System (FIRIS) received $30 million in state funding and transferred over to the state offices in charge of wildfires and emergencies, according to a tweet from the fledgling firefighting program.
FIRIS is now under the California Office of Emergency Services and is operated in partnership with CAL FIRE, the Los Angeles Fire Department and UC San Diego.
The program was created in 2019 when Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy wanted to fill the need for real-time emergency intelligence at the tap of a finger.
“It’s got to be fast, it’s got to be simple,” Fennessy said in a May 13 CAL OES video. “Even on a smartphone, in the heat of battle, me having to enter a user ID and a password, I’m not going to do it.”
The system works with one of FIRIS infrared camera-equipped planes sending videos of fires back to the FIRIS Fusion Center at the Los Angeles City Fire Department, which then sends the videos to UC San Diego’s supercomputer where a model is generated and then sent back to the Fusion Center, according to CAL OES.
The model shows the potential for fire growth over the next several hours, allowing responding fire crews to allocate the proper amount of resources, according to CAL OES.
In the 2022 fire season, FIRIS has been a crucial tool for CAL FIRE as the office strategizes where to send resources based off the video and other data collected by the aerial team.
During the McKinney Fire, burning in Siskiyou County, heavy cloud cover and haze grounded the FIRIS team and showed how crucial this asset has become as ground crews tried to effectively place firefighters along the fire’s edge without aerial imaging.