Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, Victorian Minister for Emergency Services, Bob Cameron, and New South Wales Minister for Forest Resources, Ian Macdonald, today announced a comprehensive trial of bush fire detection cameras.

The trial will commence on 15 February in the Otway Ranges in Victoria and near Tumut in New South Wales and will run until the end of April, with a possible one month extension depending on prevailing conditions.

The cameras are able to continually monitor bushland and automatically detect smoke and lightning to enable the provision of exact information on where and when a fire starts. This will potentially assist fire fighters get to a fire in the shortest possible time in order to prevent it becoming an inferno.

The trial will be conducted in two parts, with locations chosen to provide broad area coverage and the opportunity for controlled testing where appropriate. Cameras for the trial will be provided by three private contractors: Firewatch, Eyefi and Forestwatch.

In Victoria, twelve cameras will be trialled at four locations covering the Otway Ranges at Mt Porndon, Crowes Lookout, Peters Hill and Mt Cowley under ‘real conditions’ without the use of controlled burning.

In New South Wales, three cameras will be trialled at Mt Tumorrama in the Tumut region under ‘controlled conditions’ which will include test burning to evaluate the performance of the system under simulated conditions.

The Australian Government will fund the trial, estimated to cost $3 million, with coordination and facilitation provided by the Victorian and New South Wales Governments.

The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) will evaluate the trial by comparing the effectiveness of different camera systems and examining their ability to accurately detect fires, avoid false detections, and their potential to be integrated into existing emergency management processes, including for example, providing timely warnings to the community.

This analysis will enable the technology to be evaluated against other existing bush fire detection systems including fire spotters in towers or planes, public reports through the triple-zero emergency service, or through satellite systems.

This trial demonstrates the strong commitment of Commonwealth and State Governments to pursue all possible avenues to better protect Australian communities from bushfire.

Media Contacts:
Adam Siddique (McClelland) 0407 473 630
Cameron Scott (Cameron) 0448 346 942
Veronica Fardell (Macdonald) 0427 838 776