Initial fire-detection experiment held in Barqash forests

fire roaa
(Photos: Handout from Ahmad Al-Khatib)
AMMAN — An initial experiment on early fire-detection was conducted in the plantations of Barqash in Ajloun, a project prepared by researchers Ahmad Al-Khatib and Khalid Jaber to control fires and detect them before they spread. اضافة اعلان

Entitled a “system for detecting, predicting and monitoring forest fires using wireless sensor networks and machine learning,” the scientific project was sponsored and funded by Al-Zaytoonah University.

Members of the Civil Defense Department and the Ministry of Agriculture attended the demonstration.

Khatib, a Zaytoonah associate professor in Telecommunication and Network Engineering, said the experiment is “based on using temperature and humidity sensors to monitor and record changes in the environment.”

“The project is designed to deal with fires, which break out in inaccessible areas,” he said. “The fires are discovered late, after they’ve spread and engulfed other areas.”

He told Jordan News that the sensors will “help us control the fire at its ignition point,” and help reduce the effort to extinguish it.

Behavioral analysis is another goal, which the project aims to achieve, according to Khatib. “Normally, there is a certain behavior to the fire, and the sensors help us determine the direction in which the fire is spreading, its speed in a certain place, and the source of ignition,” he explained.

He pointed out that the process requires mapping out a plan with firefighters and relevant authorities to help prevent damages before they occur, especially if the fire moves towards inhabited areas.

Additionally, he said: “Our system will predict when and where a fire is going to ignite, based on the readings and algorithms the parameters receive, for example, by estimating the fire’s timing two hours in advance.”

“Fire prediction is purely based on the natural reasons that cause a fire, unlike when it is caused by intentional or unintentional human actions, such as camping,” Khatib said.

The Chandler Burning Index is used in the “parameters in our system” to calculate a numerical index of fire danger through temperature and relative humidity, Khatib noted.

He explained that the temperature and humidity values at which the sensors work depend on the weather.

“When we conducted the initial experiment, the threshold value was 95°C, but then we discovered that it was relatively high because the fire’s speed was very high, so now we have to lower the threshold,” he added.

Khatib also pointed out to the connection between humidity and temperature, saying “when the humidity value increases, the temperature decreases”.

“During the experiment, and amidst the fire, and a temperature recorded was 95°C, while humidity was recorded at 9 percent,” he said. 

Khatib also indicated that the sensors were installed at different distances in the Barqash forests, ranging from 2–15m, adding that “installing the sensors depends on the degree of the fire danger in the place.”

“It is okay to distance one sensor from the other at 50m, but the distance should be decreased when the fire danger is near a populated place,” he added.

Khatib revealed that the initial cost of the experiment was JD10,000, hoping for the upcoming experience to constitute the pre-final or a final stage.

He thanked the Civil Defense Department and the Agriculture Department in Ajloun for their relentless efforts and help to conduct the experiment.

Khatib noted that they were very cooperative and viewed the project as an “interesting and promising” idea.

Jaber, the other researcher in the project, is an associate professor of computer science. He said he was “very satisfied with the project, hoping for the next stage to be the final one.”

Jaber said that his work on the project was on an equal basis with Khatib, but explained that his role focused on programming.

He also pointed out that “the significance of the project stemmed from the spread of fires around the world in general and in Jordan in particular.”

“We are still working on the system’s parameters as they do not have international standard readings yet,” he noted.

Moreover, he confirmed that the project will come to an end with flying colors, with “a little bit of research and more experiments.”

He said that artificial intelligence will soon be used on the system to help detect the fires more efficiently.

Some devices used in the experiment included temperature and humidity sensors, programming devices, and a receiver for the algorithm, among others. They were imported from Spain and other countries, according to Jaber.

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