Published: ABC News

Fire detection technology originally developed for the NASA mission to Mars has been successfully trialled in the Tumut area.

The CSIRO and Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre lit fires to see how quickly the smoke could be detected and 98 per cent were picked up by the Firewatch technology.

The tool has been used in Germany for nine years but this is the first time it has been tested under Australian conditions.

The managing director of Firewatch Australia, David Goodrich, says it now hopes to extend the trial across all of New South Wales and the ACT.

“It is the most successful technology in the world and Australia deserves the very best technology and we hope the Federal Government will support this extended trial to the highest risk areas across the country so that we can embed this system into existing emergency services’ management practices,” he said.

Experts fear a dangerous fire season in the mountains and grasslands after all the rain.

Mr Goodrich says the technology has led to a 90 per cent reduction in forest fires in Germany.

He says he hopes the Federal Government will now agree to extend the trial to high risk areas in all states.

“Each Firewatch sensor can cover up to 65 kilometres from the tower, so we’re proposing a five tower network in southern NSW, across the Tumut area and into the high risk areas in the ACT as well,” he said.