Prescribed Fire Ignitions at Homestead National Monument


UNL fire team include, from left: undergraduate student Rebecca Horzewski, Brittany Duncan, Professor Craig Allen, undergraduate student Christian Laney, Professor Sebastian Elbaum, Professor Carrick Detweiler, Professor Dirac Twidwell, graduate student Evan Beachly and graduate student James Higgins. UNL researchers use a small drone to set prairie burn at Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, NE. April 22, 2016. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

We had an extremely successful test of our Unmanned Aerial System for Firefighting (UAS-FF) at Homestead National Monument last week. We worked with a group of over 15 firefighters from around the region to test the UAS we have developed in the Nimbus Lab. The firefighters used drip torches to create a “black” perimeter around the field. We then used our system to perform five flights where we dropped ignition spheres to ignite the interior of the area. While Homestead is relatively “easy” terrain for conducting prescribed fires, the types of interior ignitions we demonstrated can be extremely dangerous for firefighters to ignite by hand. Here is an image from an onboard camera showing the circular ignitions from the spheres we dropped every 6 meters. This was shortly after we dropped the spheres and then they quickly joined together to form a fire line.

vlcsnap-2016-04-26-14h02m39s052-sml

There was also a significant number of news stories covering the event including the New York Times, Washington Post, Slashdot, InverseFire Engineering, Wildfire TodayLincoln Journal Star, Beatrice Daily Sun, Omaha World-Herald and a many others. There were also a number of local tv broadcasts (stories and video), including KETV ABC Omaha , KMTV CBS Omaha, KLNK ABC Lincoln, KOLN CBS Lincoln, and these were also run by a number of affiliates in other states.

Thanks to the whole fire team, pictured above, left to right: Rebecca Horzewski, Brittany Duncan, Professor Craig Allen, undergraduate student Christian Laney, Professor Sebastian Elbaum, Professor Carrick Detweiler, Professor Dirac Twidwell, graduate student Evan Beachly and graduate student James Higgins. In addition, a big thanks goes out to all the fire crew, everyone at Homestead, National Park Service, National Interagency Fire Center, Department of the Interior, and the Federal Aviation Administration for making these tests a success. And thanks to Craig Chandler / University Communications for taking these pictures. Here are a couple more showing the system in action (also taken by Craig Chandler).

The drone returns to the side of the burn area for a reload of fire balls and the chemical to make them burn. The balls are carried aloft in the tubular structure atop the drone. The ball has a chemical powder in it and while airborne, the drone will inject a second chemical. The drone then drops the ball and it bursts into flames within 60 seconds. UNL researchers use a small drone to set prairie burn at Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, NE. April 22, 2016. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

The drone drops a ball along a computerized route on one of it's test flights Friday. UNL researchers use a small drone to set prairie burn at Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, NE. April 22, 2016. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communications

Leave a Comment