May 27, 2004

HPWREN Incident Response Connectivity Deployed to Support CDF Eagle Fire Operations in Riverside County

Concepts and experiences from collaborations between HPWREN and the San Diego Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) provided the ability and a model to apply ad-hoc connectivity to a recent fire incident in Riverside County. The deployment during last year's Coyote Fire and multiple HPWREN presentations in which former CDF Fire Captain Ron Serabia and HPWREN Principal Investigator Hans-Werner Braun taught for CDF officers, have led to an increased awareness for ad-hoc incident response networking.

Around 7PM on May 2, 2004, in hot, dry weather, the Eagle Fire started southeast of the city of Temecula, to eventually consume almost 9,000 acres of land, 14 residences, and 27 outbuildings. On May 3, CDF Captain Steve Shoemaker approached the HPWREN team about connecting the Incident Command Post (ICP) via a wireless access link. The participating HPWREN team included Hans-Werner Braun, Bud Hale, Jim Hale, and Todd Hansen of the UCSD San Diego Supercomputer Center, as well as Pablo Bryant of the San Diego State University Field Station Programs.

To accomplish the link, a new tower site at San Diego State University's Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve was utilized for the HPWREN access, where SDSU's Pablo Bryant installed the needed radio and antenna. By the time the HPWREN team got close to the Eagle Fire area itself, the fire had jumped the main road, and eventually ran over the ICP. The California Highway Patrol had closed the access road, and the HPWREN team was unable to reach the ICP site that day. http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/20040503 shows photos of the fire, as seen from the location where the road was closed. The photos are also reachable from CDF's Eagle Fire incident page.

In the evening of May 3rd, Shoemaker notified us that the ICP will be moved to a new location, Lake Skinner, and it was decided that the HPWREN team would meet up with him early morning on May 4. From there, with help from CDF and California Conservation Camp team members, a wireless relay was established in an elevated location close to the ICP camp, and connected to the SDSU/SMER tower, as well as the ICP itself. The team then installed a wire-based and wireless network throughout the ICP, connecting the various Incident Base Camp modules of Situation Analysis and Mapping, Finance, Planning, and Logistics with between 1 and 2 Mbps connectivity.

coyote fire

The image shows the connection from the SDSU/SMER tower to the relay location on top of a hill near the ICP camp site, and from there into the camp itself. Some of the heavy equipment transport was helped by CDF and California Conservation Camp team members.

Changing weather aided the fire fighting operation, and the HPWREN Eagle Fire ICP connection was dismantled on Saturday, May 8, 2004, when the incident operations were discontinued and the ICP was shut down.

The repeated successful deployment of the National Science Foundation funded HPWREN wireless ad-hoc incident management connectivity prototypes has shown that high performance networking is a viable option even for these kind of remote-location scenarios, and that it can even be used as a model outside of the initial deployment in San Diego County. "We look forward to using and expanding such networking technologies in the future," said San Diego CDF Emergency Command Center Captain Tom Gardner. "This not only includes incident-based deployment, but also the larger critical-infrastructure deployment with its capabilities, such as real-time sensors, anywhere-anytime networking, and Voice over IP integration. There is a lot of work to do, and a tremendous amount of opportunities to improve incident management activities."

Other related links to HPWREN involvement in incident-response related activities:

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