Wildfire is a global threat as every year; it burns down 6 to 14 million hectares of forests all across the globe. It puts the lives of exotic wildlife in danger; it is a severe threat to human beings and their properties. Wildfire spreads at a breakneck pace, and controlling it is something that is not in the hands of humankind. It takes days and even weeks to get control over it. Therefore, the world has to focus on the detection of early blazes, which is the only way to prevent wildfires from spreading. A company based in Bozeman, Belgrade, has realized the importance of detecting blazes. Bridger Aerospace, with its offices operating in Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, Denver, and Australia, is incorporating the latest sensor technology and aircraft for aerial supervision and detection of wildfire blazes. As Belgrade is at a high risk of wildfires, the company is preparing it well to address any wildfire incidents in the future.
Belgrade’s Shield Against Wildfire
Tim Sheehy, Purple Heart recipient, and Navy Seal for ten years founded Bridger Aerospace in the year 2014. The company has its headquarters in Bozeman with a team that comprises of former army veterans and engineers from Montana State University. The company is playing a pivotal role in the nation’s fight against wildfires through its aerial tracking and wildfire suppression techniques. Just one year after the company was launched, it incorporated drone technology, becoming the first company to fly a drone over a wildfire. The company has four certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration. These include Repair Station Operators (Part 145), Air Carrier and Operator (Part 135), Remote Pilot UAS (Part 107), and Aerial Applicator (Part 137).
The aerial firefighting company, Bridger Aerospace, covers an area of 30,000 square feet. It is located at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Belgrade, Montana. It shares its facility with Ascent Vision Technologies. AVT is Bridger’s partner company, which was founded in 2015. The US Department of the Interior awarded Bridger Aerospace and three other companies a ‘Call When Needed’ contract for using unmanned drone technology on wildfires, search and rescue, and other emergency missions in May 2018.
Not only is the company active against wildfires, but it also has offered to help in defending the state against the pandemic, COVID-19. The company has offered its Type 1 Air Tactical Ground Supervisor (ATGS) platforms for aerial transportation. It is equipping its aircraft with necessary facilities to transform it into emergency medical transportation. It has also stopped the construction of its new hangar and sent the workers to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital to assist the healthcare facilities in the time of extensive stress.
Assistance from Federal Authorities
The FAA certified aerial firefighting company has contracts with several federal authorities that allow it to perform at the forefront. The authorities provide the company type 1 Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) platforms, Single Engine Air Attack Tanker (SEAT), water scoopers, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The federal authorities with which the company has set up contracts include US Forest Service, Texas and New Mexico’s State Fire Marshal’s offices, California Department of Forestry, and the US Department of the Interior. Moreover, these contracts provide firefighting company maintenance and technological support.
Use of Advanced Technology and a Large Fleet of Aircraft
Currently, Bridger Aerospace has a fleet of 24 aircraft, which includes three AC50 Shrike Commander, six AC90 Turbine Commander, four K100 Daher Kodiak, one AT-802 (Firefighter), two FVR90, CL-215, and CL-415EAF. All these aircraft serve a unique purpose and help the company track and suppress wildfire spread. Some of these are for aerial supervision and resource management. The company has kept some of these for initial attack command and control, while others are wildfire suppression.
In addition to a large fleet of aircraft, the company uses the latest sensor technology that it has acquired from its sister company, Ascent Vision Technologies, AVT. The sister company helped U.S Marine Cops thwart an Iranian drone through its advanced technology. Bridger Aerospace uses the AVT technology in its aerial firefighting surveillance system, Gen V. The advanced surveillance system incorporates AVT’s lightweight CM142 imaging payload, Fire Mapper, 13-megapixel daylight sensor, and Latitude’s FVR-90 VTOL unmanned aerial system. The highly skilled and trained operators use this technology.
Advanced technology is one of the features that make this company the nation’s shield against wildfires. The company uses sensor technology for accurate aerial intelligence, reconnaissance, observation, and mapping. The system provides the company the capabilities, including high definition daylight and nighttime imagery, hot spot detection, long-range detection, and identification. It also allows them to use the functionality of real-time aerial intelligence, playback functionality, real-time geo-positioning information, and accurate perimeter mapping.
All these technological tools, along with a large fleet of aircraft, help the company plan response during active wildfires, and it also lays the ground for future strategy and planning. Bridger Aerospace is Montana’s hope against the increasing risk of wildfires.