Tethered balloon, autonomous beacons: firefighters unveil their new equipment for the forest fire season

Marine firefighters and the city of Marseille have worked with local companies to create innovative equipment, which should make it possible to intervene more quickly on fires, but above all to prevent forest fires.

Captive balloon, autonomous beacons, new fire hoses… The Marseille firefighters presented this Wednesday the new equipment which must be used for the forest fire season, which should last for the next three months.

Innovative equipment, which is based in part on artificial intelligence, to allow firefighters to be faster and more efficient in the event of a fire, but above all to collect information in real time and intervene in risk areas before the fire starts get bigger.

Tethered balloon, autonomous beacons, smart lances

Among the devices deployed: a tethered balloon, a sort of large airship, which can climb up to 800 meters in altitude. Its goal: to collect visual data in real time in order to detect possible smoke. With its infrared system, it is capable of taking images day and night, over a perimeter of 20 kilometres.

Another innovation: autonomous beacons, powered by small integrated solar panels, which will be scattered in the Calanques park to collect data in areas inaccessible to firefighters. Up to 200 of these small sensors will be installed in the Marseille massifs, for the moment in three experimental areas.

The marine firefighters and the city of Marseille also worked with the start-up Zelup to develop new fire hoses, without adjustments and easier to use.

“Current lances work with water pressure, with high flow rates, and make large droplet sizes”, explains Thomas Issler, founder of Zelup, at the microphone of BFM Marseille Provence. “There, we will work with much smaller droplets. We will no longer work in pressure, but we will work in droplet speed. With a lot of small droplets, you will capture much more energy than with large droplets .”

A patented device, which can be accompanied by a breathing apparatus to be fixed on the lance to allow firefighters to breathe well at the same time as they use the lance.

“Working on upstream monitoring”

So many innovations that were presented this Wednesday morning to Yannick Ohanessian, deputy mayor of Marseille, delegate for public tranquility. He explains that with its 13,000 hectares exposed during the fire season, “the territory of Marseille is a territory with high stakes.”

“We had to allocate substantial resources, with a system adapted to the situation,” he told BFM Marseille Provence. “Evolve in a new doctrine, which consists of working on upstream surveillance.”

It took many months to develop these new devices. The city of Marseille and the marine firefighters worked with local companies to create this innovative material. In addition to the company Zelup, the originator of the smart lance, the firefighters also called on the Corsican company Midgard, which is responsible for analyzing the images and data streams sent in real time by the various tools. .

Patrick Augier, admiral of the battalion of marine firefighters of Marseille, is delighted with all these new devices. “The Marine Fire Battalion is always characterized by its innovation and development of new tools.”

With the drought of recent months, forest fires are numerous in the Marseille area. The Departmental Fire and Rescue Operational Center (Codis) of Bouches-du-Rhône announced a few days ago to receive nearly 2,000 daily calls.

For this forest fire season, 670 firefighters are mobilized every day, compared to 550 out of season, and 50 tank trucks are ready to be deployed.

Justine Cazaux with Laurène Rocheteau

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Tethered balloon, autonomous beacons: firefighters unveil their new equipment for the forest fire season

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