Wildfire monitoring and detection - FireScout pilot

An illustration of a camera installed onto a large tower.

Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency (HRFE) is piloting wildfire monitoring and detection cameras powered by artificial intelligence. 

Delivered in partnership with the Province of Nova Scotia, this pilot program includes three specialized cameras positioned in Musquodoboit Harbour, Middle Sackville and Hammonds Plains that monitor the landscape for signs of smoke 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

This pilot program will contribute to the ongoing development of the municipality’s urban wildland interface strategy. It will provide insight for recommendations for detection and mitigation that the new strategy will provide to guide the municipality. In addition to efforts such as this to increase early detection of wildfires, HRFE already offers FireSmart assessments to help property owners mitigate impacts a wildfire around their property. 

About the pilot system

Three, tower-mounted cameras provide a non-intrusive 360-degree view of an area – Musquodoboit Harbour, Middle Sackville and Hammonds Plains. The cameras provide a continuous feed of images to an artificial intelligence-powered software backend - FireScout - that can detect potential fire conditions by looking for signs of smoke. 

FireScout uses machine learning to continuously improve how it identifies and detects smoke, comparing it to millions of database images to identify a potential wildfire. The cameras and software can detect wildfires up to 29 kilometers away during daylight hours, and up to 21 kilometers away during the night. 

Once the software identifies that the camera has captured a potential sign of smoke, the system alerts HRFE personnel to assess the images and determine the next course of action up to and including dispatching fire crews to respond. 

Part of a whole-of-community response

Wildfires pose a very serious risk to our communities, and early detection can lead to reducing losses to life, property, and natural resources. 

In addition to early detection efforts like these and services like FireSmart home assessments to help mitigate risk and improve community resiliency, residents can be prepared for wildfire season by:

Questions and answers

How long is the pilot project and what happens when it is complete?

The pilot project will be run throughout the province’s 2024 burn restrictions season – March 14 through October 15.

The result of the pilot project will be used to help inform recommendations and considerations that will be included in the upcoming Wildland Urban Interface Strategy. 

Should the pilot project prove effective, part of the outcomes will include specific considerations for more permanent camera-enabled monitoring in the future. 

What information does the camera and software capture?

The cameras provide a continuous feed of imagery with a 360-degree view of up to 29 kilometers (in daylight conditions; 21 kilometers in nighttime) from each tower they are installed on. 

The artificial intelligence software is initially “viewing” the images. It then notifies the vendor for visual confirmation (and for software training purposes) and next to HRFE who then reviews the image to decide upon a course of action. The system uses approximate latitude and longitude coordinates to determine approximate area. No personal information is captured or shared from the imagery. 

Has this system been used in other jurisdictions?

HRFE will be the first Municipal Fire Department in Canada and on the eastern seaboard of North America to use the FireScout technology.





Project contact

Kara McCurdy

Wildfire Mitigation Program Manager, Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency

E-mail: contactus@311.halifax.ca

Phone; 311