Video surveillance as a means of fighting fires

Video surveillance as a means of fighting fires

The first significant fire known to historians happened during Nero’s reign (64) when he ordered Rome to be set on fire to enjoy a grand spectacle. To this day, the world is shaken by fires; large forest, industrial and domestic fires occur, bringing destruction and death. Can fire fighting be carried out using video surveillance systems? Let’s figure it out.

Statistics of fires in the Russian Federation

Despite restrictions on making fires and epidemiological bans, the number of fires in the Russian Federation in 2021 increased compared to the previous year.

The statistics are disappointing:

  • the number of fires at the beginning of the year is + 13%;
  • the number of deaths is + 9.4%;
  • the number of people injured in fires is + 6.8%.

57% of fires at the beginning of this year were recorded in the residential sector. Three hundred ninety people died (11 of them are children), which is 93% of the total number of deaths.

Common reasons are:

  • malfunction of electrical equipment and wiring;
  • malfunction of ovens;
  • illiterate use of pyrotechnics;
  • arson;
  • human negligence when handling fire, coal, ash.

As the experience of past years shows, in the second half of the year, the number of forest fires, reed fires, and scrap heaps will increase.

Use of video cameras for fire detection and rapid response

Disappointing statistics necessitate innovative, productive methods for the rapid detection of fire centers and countermeasures to counter such a severe threat. 

A logical step forward is the massive use of IP (network) video cameras and fire protection systems.

Forest fires

Problems of fire detection and extinguishing in a forest:

  • vast areas + dense vegetation;
  • remoteness;
  • difficulties in determining the exact location of the fire;
  • the need for extinguishing resources (transport, people, water, equipment).

Practical Control Measures Used in Croatia and the USA:

  1. Development and implementation of a dense network of antenna towers to support a highly targeted, fire-fighting video monitoring system.
  2. Installation of many PTZ cameras with IR illumination on special observation towers.
  3. Formation of a single operator’s headquarters. As soon as one camera detects a fire, the operator remotely controls the nearest cameras to clarify the location of the fire.

The main objectives of the strategy are the ability to detect and respond quickly.

Landfill fires

The danger of fire in landfills lies not only in the fire and smoke itself, but also in the spread of toxic fumes.

Modern solutions include:

In an urban environment

If we talk about innovative methods of collecting/sorting waste in cities, it is worth paying attention to using “smart” garbage cans with wireless sensors.

  • Pluses of “smart” equipment:
  • measurement and forecasting of the level of filling of the tank;
  • built-in trash reduction capabilities;
  • the presence of an alarm in case of burglary, vandalism, arson.

 In an urban environment, the most common smoke/fire detection tool is a smoke detector. Of course, this is an effective method, but it lacks “sight,” as a result, the alarm will only work after smoke penetrates the detector. Time is permanently lost. There is also a high percentage of false calls.

Integrated products appeared on the market: video cameras with video analytics for smoke and fire detection. Thanks to them, you can see the fireplace, fix the cause of the fire, and quickly call the fire department.

Another urban solution could be a video surveillance fire-prevention system created using thermal imaging cameras (thermal imagers). The preferred locations for installations are fire-hazardous industrial zones. If the temperature regime is increased, the camera provides a visual assessment and fire alarm activation.

You will find a lot of helpful information in the article “TOP-8 undisputable advantages of thermal imaging video surveillance systems”.

The future of video surveillance

One of the video surveillance market growth drivers in 2020-25 identified is the government growing concerns about public (including fire) safety. Today, we are witnessing the expansion of the influence of video surveillance on all spheres of human life.

The visual component of the fire protection system has already proven its effectiveness. Thanks to it, it dramatically simplifies and speeds up the process of detecting a fire point, whether it is arson in a forest or urban infrastructure.

In the future, the massive use of IP PTZ cameras will ensure the growth of situational awareness and control over the fire situation. And the use of intelligent hybrid solutions (video analytics + various sensors) will make our world safer.


Extinguishing forest fires is a global problem. By mid-2021, only a few countries have adopted the use of video cameras to solve it. Croatia and the USA are pioneers in this direction. Let’s hope that Russia will learn from this helpful experience.

Александр Вебер

Alexander Weber

Specialist in video surveillance, video analytics, cloud storage systems. Consultant on the integration of video surveillance systems and tools in various business sectors. Over 10 years of industry experience.

See also