High flyers unite new weapon weapon against wildfires. 

By Matty Holdsworth, Sunshine Coast Daily

Three trailblazing Sunshine Coast companies are changing the way bushfires are detected and defeated in an emergency response where minutes can make a world of difference.

Fireball.International, Helitak and McDermott Aviation have linked up to put world-first technology to use.

Fireball.International uses a series of artificial intelligence systems that collect and analyse data of ground based sensors, cameras and satellites to detect and report bushfires in less than three minutes after they start.

Founder and CEO Christopher Tylor said every minute counted when it came to bushfires.

“Currently, it takes approximately 45 minutes for a bushfire to be reported so our technology will significantly reduce the notification time in areas where our system is installed,” Mr Tylor said.

“We have successfully rolled out this technology in a number of counties in the US, and we are ready to start the roll out in Australia,”

“It is important that people see how it works to get a better understanding of how incredibly powerful this technology is.”

Aerial firefighting equipment specialists Helitak provide tanks that aid speedy and cost-effective delivery of water to help extinguish fires.

“When it comes to putting out bushfires the only way to increase your ability to extinguish a fire from the air is to increase the litres of water per hour you can put on it,” Helitak CEO Jason Schellaars said.

“Our tanks allow the helicopters to deliver maximum load in the shortest amount of time.”

“Our 1200L tank, which is our smallest, can deliver an average of 18,000L per hour at approximately one fifth of the cost of the large air tankers that averages around 7500L per hour.”

McDermott Aviation managing director John McDermot said every minute was critical when tackling bushfires.

John McDermott, (squatting), Christopher Tylor from Fireball.International and Jason Schellaars of Helitak Fire Fighting Equipment observing the expandable water tank underneath the helicopter.

“Our tank-fitted helicopters offer speed and maneuverability for an initial attack on a fire,” Mr McDermott said.

“In terms of delivering maximum, continuous water and dropping it accurately onto a fire our helicopter and tank systems shine when compared to large air tankers which carry larger volumes but have much longer turn around periods and less accuracy for urban interface interaction,”

“This ensures we nail it every time and ensure that no time and water is wasted.”

Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien said the LNP was pleased to support the innovative firefighting technology with a $497,500 accelerating commercialisation grant for Helitak, and a $500,000 entrepreneurs’ program grant for Fireball.International.

Fire and Rescue teams fight a wild bushfire as it approaches Peregian Beach township. Photo Lachie Millard

“The technology being developed at the Peregian Digital Hub and the collaboration with Helitak and McDermott Aviation is an absolute game-changer for detecting and fighting bushfires, and it will benefit not just Australian communities, but has the potential to be used all over the globe,” Mr O’Brien said.