Early Fire and Smoke Detection System – FireWatch

Induction year:

DLR and the private firm IQ Wireless took technology developed by DLR to analyze gases and particles in space and created a terrestrial detection tool known as FireWatch that uses high-resolution optical sensors installed on towers or masts that connect to a remote central office to monitor forests and detect potential fires.


With sensors that can distinguish between more than 16,000 scales of grey, the system can spot developing fires in virtually any weather, day or night, resulting in a detection rate of more than 90 percent. FireWatch image processing software analyzes the motion, structure and brightness of smoke plumes and automatically alerts monitoring personnel within six minutes during daylight and within 12 minutes during the night. Monitoring personnel receive target images and coordinates to determine and alert the appropriate response resources.

Using networks of high-resolution cameras that can each monitor hundreds of square miles of forest, FireWatch now protects more than seven million acres of forests around the world from Europe and Australia to Mexico.