DragonPlot Wildfire Positioning System Deployed for 2007 Fire Season

SISTERS, OR - Oregon's GeodesyBase, Inc. will provide its new release of the DragonPlot® Wildfire Positioning System on a contract to the U.S. Forest Service this year. In 2007, as in the past three fire seasons, DragonPlot will offer U.S. Forest Service and central Oregon wildfire management agencies a fast, accurate method to plot the precise location of a newly spotted forest fire, quickly displaying critical information regarding the area of the fire for rapid dispatch of firefighting resources to the scene. This innovative firefighting technology package is also available to assist fire lookouts, dispatchers and firefighters nationwide.

The system determines the location of a fire by taking orientation and position information from forestry lookout towers, or from strategically located personnel, and inputs that information into specialized three-dimensional software.

Since the 1920’s, fire lookouts have been the critical first line of defense in the detection and reporting of wildfires, allowing firefighters to keep thousands of blazes over past decades from becoming potentially disastrous large wildfires. In 2006, during the United States’ largest wildfire season in over fifty years, DragonPlot assisted lookouts with fire reporting in several towers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Company principal Tom Craven served as a fire lookout in his college years, and the challenge of precisely locating a new fire has always been in his mind. “What we do is help the lookout do a better job of what they take great pride in doing, and that is nailing the location of the smoke,” says Craven.

DragonPlot merges the operation of the traditional Osborne Fire Finder, employed for years by fire lookouts, with computerized Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data. Matched with a fast, graphics oriented PC/Laptop with customized Terrain Visualization Software (TVS), an extensive spatial database and (optionally) a high-speed internet connection, lookouts improve accuracy, speed and ease of fire reporting. They also gain the ability of real-time data sharing with dispatch centers, fire stations and incident commanders.

“Current methods and techniques do not allow for accurately locating a fire from a single sighting,” adds Craven. “The pitch angle available from the Osborne Firefinder does not generally help in locating the fire because data from the tower (azimuth) is applied only in the two-dimensional, map environment. With the addition of the third dimension, the pitch angle and the azimuth angle can be combined to ‘triangulate’ that single tower sighting into the 3-D environment of the Terrain Visualization Software.” This triangulation allows a lookout the most precise fire location reporting.

Unique product aspects include rapid, accurate plotting of distant points, integrating latitude/longitude waypoints with local topographical data. DragonPlot also integrates regional lightning strike data, assisting in focused fire detection efforts. Each system is optimized for the tower that it is used on, via customized databases.

Utilizing DragonPlot, a lookout immediately reinforces their already good local knowledge with computerized referencing, increasing the accuracy of their fire report to the dispatch center. Users can view waypoints in the full range of formats and datums via a simple conversion button, rapidly providing dispatchers and firefighters location data matching local protocols. Enter a Lat/Long in any format and see all other formats immediately.

And Craven says users have employed DragonPlot to guide ground units to emerging fires, avoiding higher-cost smokejumper operations, at the same time keeping smokejumpers available for other new fires. “Experienced users of DragonPlot have utilized the full features of the product to help plan an attack on a small fire on foot rather than jumping it at a much higher cost. One such instance can easily pay for the cost of the system for a season.” Also, fire managers report that DragonPlot has greatly assisted relief lookout personnel - typically not as familiar with response area terrain features - in accurate and timely fire reports at towers they are temporarily staffing.

During deployments at lookouts in Oregon over the past three fire seasons, DragonPlot has proven to be a cost-effective GIS and initial attack tool.

Lookout Jim Shotwell utilized the system extensively and sees several benefits. “DragonPlot doesn’t need the visual landmarks that a lookout normally uses,” says Shotwell. “It performs well even when visibility is partially impaired due to thunderstorms, smoke, haze, dust, fog, or low light. It even works well after dark. As long as the base of a smoke is sighted, the fire locations are just as accurate. This allows a lookout to work with less stress regarding a fire location, and to consider the big picture: fire behavior, fire weather, road access, and other fires.”

DragonPlot will again be in service at lookout towers throughout the Pacific Northwest in 2007 including Black Butte, Lava Butte and Odell Butte on Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest and Mount Pisgah on the Ochoco National Forest, also in Oregon. Additional placements are anticipated and the system is available for deployment nationwide.

DragonPlot developers Tom Craven, Peter Guth and John Douglass combine decades of experience in information system development, terrain analysis and emergency response. Good potential exists for utilization of DragonPlot in other emergency response, rescue and law enforcement disciplines, in addition to wildfire operations.

With more homes being built in our wildlands each year, the early, accurate and efficient detection of new fires becomes even more critical. DragonPlot is an integral part of initial attack strategies. Add DragonPlot to your arsenal of wildfire defenses today and mount your best attack on the dragon’s threat.

For further information on the DragonPlot® Wildfire Positioning System as well as a free online interactive fire locating demonstration, log onto or contact Tom Craven/GeodesyBase, Inc. at (541) 815-1309 and

GeodesyBase, Inc . is also listed as a U.S. Forest Service Emerging Small Business Concern.

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