Tech Zone

Avenza PDF Maps App Helps with Wildland Firefighting

Northern California is being ravaged with wildfires and firefighters are gathering to control a number of large wildland fires in what some have terms the West’s “worst wildfire season ever.” According to a release, ground and air crews are now adding the Avenza PDF Maps app to their arsenal.

Not long ago, it was common for firefighters to use paper maps, making it difficult to track a growing fire and update everyone on procedure. Today, air tactical teams and ground crews work together to reduce the critical time delay that’s created when quick moving wildfires begin to spread. By being the ‘eye in the sky’ air tactical teams can quickly track a fire, coordinate water and retardant drops, and send images of the activity back to base camp with the Avenza PDF Maps app so that personnel can quickly update map data and send it back out to those that need it the most.

A firefighter since the late 1980s, Bruce Banke, who serves as an Air Tactical Group Supervisor for Arizona State Forestry, discussed the importance of paper maps and the issues they posed when communicating the position of a fast-moving fire to various air and ground crews.

“Although valuable, paper maps were very cumbersome, and sometimes so large that the ends  could touch wall to wall in a tiny cockpit. When crews started to use digital maps on their iPads, it was definitely a welcome move for many,” said Banke.

Although the app is already popular with outdoor recreationalists who use the app to navigate areas with no cell reception, Avenza’s PDF Maps app is reportedl being used by fire and emergency crews more frequently nationwide.

Responding with Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team One with 53 personnel, Situational Unit leader and Fire Engine Captain Chris Brenzel discussed the need for an efficient, digital mapping solution in a 2012 case study. The hope was to use the technology to improve overall situational awareness as well as reduce crews’ environmental footprint.

“When I found Avenza’s PDF Maps app in the iTunes App Store, I was so excited,” Brenzel stated. “It’s easy, powerful, and free! With this app, I can have several maps on my phone and can access them anywhere I am–even if I am offline.”

Firefighters are now able to use both iOS and Android devices while out in the field.

More: https://www.pdf-maps.com/

For more information visit www.avenza.com or call (416) 487-5116.