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March/April 2023 | Nontethelelo Ramantswana

FireHawk’s automatic fire detection Systems

Fire management

Fire protection

In 1994, ZFPS became involved in digital fire detection and formed a company called Alasia Marketing cc. This Company was instrumental in the development of the FireHawk system that is today used in South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Malawi and Ghana. FireHawk was the first computerized fire detection system in the world and has been operating commercially for the past 26 years. The first system was installed in Richmond in 1994 and is still operational today.

What is it?
The FireHawk Automatic fire detection system is a computerized fire detection system. FireHawk will detect a fire providing location and access details. The FireHawk basically provides rapid fire detection using technology for early, effective and accurate detection. FireHawk use advanced equipment and technology, whilst remaining affordable and simple to use.

How it works?
The FireHawk system uses 360 degrees rotating high-definition digital cameras to monitor areas under surveillance and transmits information to a base station that is manned by FireHawk operators. Images are transmitted wirelessly to a centralised detection system where they are displayed on HD monitors. There is panoramic view of each camera displayed. Each section can be selected, and processing unit will digitally analyse every aspect of the picture recognising normal movement patterns and alert you of the fire. The entire 360 degrees is checked every 2 minutes. Immediately an event occurs an alarm warning will instantly highlight the event on the relevant monitor. The operator can zoom and tilt the camera area for closer inspection of the scene. The software differentiates between fire, smoke, and glow, and then raises an alarm. Positioning is done from a single camera, with the ability to cross reference for improved accuracy. Graphic overlays can pinpoint the exact location of a fire and provide access information for safest and quickest fire defence. All images are kept in a database that is available and accessible whenever needed. Records of crew reaction times and suppression efficiency are also kept.

Other interesting information
FireHawk competed with other global renowned fire detection systems on a scientific research in Canada during the 2022 wildfire season. The systems were installed and operated on the Marten Mountain Lookout tower near Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada. Four metrics were used to evaluate the performance of the detection systems: Summary of the results presented:
• Detection distance at 40 km- FireHawk system effectively detected smoke and wildfire
• Reporting efficiency- FireHawk averaged at 4 minutes at all tested distances (10-40 km)
• Location accuracy - FireHawk averaged at 4 km
• System availability - FireHawk is 100 %, there was no single downtime
FireHawk and one other company were deemed the best performers amongst the selected fire detection systems.

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