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Monday, October 13, 2008

Fighting Fires with Paper

It's October and fire season has started in Los Angeles.Capture

Read about the current fires here

For those of you who do not live in LA, here is the general scenario...

    • We don't have any rain from April through November
    • During this time, the wild vegetation in the forests and canyons dry out from lack of water
    • In the Fall, the hot and dry Santa Ana winds start to blow
    • Forest fires (either natural or manmade) occur in the forests and dry canyons, and the combination of wind, heat, and dryness from the Santa Ana winds act as fuel for the fires

Thankfully, I live in the "Concrete Jungle" area of LA, away from the fires.  However, I have friends who live in the areas which are currently burning, and I am praying for their's, and everyone else who lives in the area's safety.

The reason that I'm writing about this today is because of what I saw on television this morning.Capture..

The television reporter was interviewing to a Fire Captain who showed a map of where the fire was burning.  The Fire Captain used this map (actually a page torn out of a Thomas Guide) to plan the deployment of the firefighters, determine which roads to close and mark up the direction of the wind.  The problem was that once he marked up the map, the lines couldn't be erased, which made it difficult to track the evolving pattern of the fire. In addition, the paper was getting torn up from the wind and it was literally blowing off the clipboard.

I was very surprised that the fire team did not have access to a mobile computer -  especially with all of the advancements in GPS and satellite photos.  Just imagine how much it would help to be able to calculate maneuvers and weather patterns from a mobile computer...

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