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Latvia implements forest fire monitoring system

In Latvia, a system for detecting and observing fires is starting to be introduced in order to identify burning sites more quickly and accurately, Latvian Radio reported March 21.

In spring, forest fires are particularly relevant with grass fires, but the State Forest Service (VMD) currently lacks resources to employ seasonal workers.

The VMD has launched a pilot project of a remote fire detection and monitoring system. So far the system has only been introduced in the regional forest of Rīga and, in total, surveillance cameras have been installed on 12 fire observation towers, which are capable of identifying smoke at a distance of up to 15 kilometers.

The system shall be able to identify smoke and determine the place of fire. The location coordinates shall also be determined and the information shall be received by the operational officer at the control center where the information is processed to see whether it is indeed a fire or any other source of smoke.

Currently, in 180 fire towers throughout Latvia, the forest is observed by seasonal employees, but the service has difficulties attracting workers, since it is no secret that the pay is not high.

Forest fires in Latvia are recorded nearly as soon as snow melts, and 2021 has already had fires. Last year there was a calmer year due to rainfall and a total of 580 forest fires were recorded. In 2019 there were around 1,000 forest fires, sending more than 800 hectares of forest land up in smoke.

The operation of a remote fire detection and observation system in the Riga region will be tested for five years and, if justified, it is planned to be implemented throughout Latvia.

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