Globalstar and SPOT trusted to safeguard fire fighters
Globalstar Europe Satellite Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, and a provider of satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, announced that two regional administrations in Spain have extended their agreements to deploy SPOT satellite devices to protect firefighters.
INFOCA, the administrative authority for forest and wildfire management, a department of the Junta de Andalucía, has extended its agreement with specialist fire management technology provider Technosylva, whose solution for the authority is enabled by Globalstar’s satellite network and 550 SPOT satellite messengers. Andalusia’s INFOCA is one of the largest fire authorities in Europe with 5,000 response personnel to cover this expansive region in southern Spain.
Announced in 2020, this deployment was fast-tracked due to the pandemic. INFOCA urgently needed a far-reaching and reliable tracking system to monitor firefighters as Spain dealt with outbreaks. Together with other first responders, INFOCA engaged in extensive activities to protect the public, such as deploying fire equipment for disinfection operations. Thanks to the pre-integration and smooth inter-operation between fiResponse and SPOT, Technosylva completed the project in a matter of weeks.
In neighbouring Castilla La Mancha, the regional authority has extended its agreement with Technosylva for its solution, also based on SPOT technology. The authority first began to deploy SPOT Gen3 devices in July 2015 to track and protect firefighters as they battle wildfires in the vast area. More recently, SPOT Gen4, the newest addition to the SPOT device family, is being introduced.
Technosylva provides sophisticated fire behaviour analysis and management software for customers worldwide. Thanks to its technology, fire operations teams can precisely track firefighters’ locations in real-time with a user-friendly display via the Technosylva fiResponse platform, a wildfire decision support system.
Growing worldwide fire risk
In recent years the annual devastation of wildfires in Spain and elsewhere has gained worldwide attention. In parallel, the need to mitigate the impacts of climate change figures higher than ever in the consciousness of people and governments everywhere.
A technical report, “Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2020”, by the Joint Research Council, the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, says, “2020 has done nothing to ease our continued concern about wildfire risks in the EU. Over 3,400 square kilometres were burnt. Some 40% of this was in protected areas and the damage caused in many of these invaluable ecosystems will take many years to restore.”
It adds: “Even more worrying, the 2021 fire season has been the second worst in the EU since 2017, with half a million hectares of land in flames, and, sadly, a high number of killed firefighters and civilians […] Global warming is also generating fast-spreading wildfires of such an intensity that traditional fire-fighting means can do nothing to stop them.”
Joaquin Ramirez Cisneros, Principal Consultant at Technosylva, underscores this concern: “We’ve seen a dramatic rise of fire activity and its impacts in recent years.”
“More intense fires are happening in a wider spread of territories, such as in northern Europe, far beyond more southerly countries well accustomed to seasonal fire devastation; we anticipate fire management technology solutions to be deployed more widely across the globe,” he says.
SPOT Gen4 – newest addition to SPOT family
At the heart of Technosylva’s Spanish deployments are SPOT devices enabled by Globalstar’s low-Earth Orbit satellite fleet. SPOT Gen4 offers new features including enhanced mapping interfaces, more display options, improved water resistance, and geofencing among other enhancements. Like its precedents, SPOT Gen4 features a one-touch SOS button which instantly sends the user’s GPS co-ordinates either to the SPOT 24/7 International Emergency Response Centre or to an organisation’s operations team, depending on the customer’s preferred configuration.
As a result, emergency support can be dispatched to precisely the right location, even if the incident occurs well beyond the reach of mobile and other telecom networks.
In the context of fire fighting, a major SPOT benefit is accurate positioning which aids fire management and resource optimisation.
“To keep firefighters safe, it’s critical to know exactly where they are at all times, and in particular, how far away they are from their resources, and location in relation to the heart of the fire,” says Ramirez Cisneros.
“With the ability to reliably track each crew member, and the engines, pumps and other equipment, while providing real-time intelligence on a fire’s status and characteristics, everyone concerned gets the best-possible tools and data to protect life and property, and to help ensure fire fighters’ safety,” he added.
Mark O’Connell, General Manager at Globalstar for EMEA & APAC, commented: “We’ve all seen dramatic scenes of the destructive power of fire, and we know that areas considered to be of high risk are expanding.”
“Advanced satellite and software solutions are definitely a huge part of the technology toolkit that can be provided to firefighters to help them manage and mitigate the risks they face doing their critical work; we’re extremely proud to work with the incredible innovators at Technosylva to deliver an all-in platform that helps reduce the impact of fires, meanwhile providing enhanced safety for fire crews,” O’Connell added.
Since 2007, SPOT has provided peace of mind by enabling users to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues. SPOT devices have played a part in over 8,000 rescues worldwide to date.