An Autonomous Fire Detector (AFD) is a miniature electronic package combining position location capability [using the Global Positioning System (GPS)], communications (packet or voice-synthesized radio), and fire detection capability (thermal, gas, smoke detector) into an inexpensive, deployable package. The AFD can report fire-related parameters, like temperature, carbon monoxide concentration, or smoke levels via a radio link to firefighters located on the ground. These systems are designed to be inserted into the fire by spotter planes at a fire site or positioned by firefighters already on the ground. AFDs can also be used as early warning devices near critical assets in the urban–wildland interface. AFDs can now be made with commercial off-the-shelf components. Using modern micro-electronics, an AFD can operate for the duration of even the longest fire (weeks) using a simple dry battery pack, and can be designed to have a transmitting range of up to several kilometers with current low power radio communication technology. A receiver to capture the data stream from the AFD can be made as light, inexpensive and portable as the AFD itself. Inexpensive portable repeaters can be used to extend the range of the AFD and to coordinate many probes into an autonomous fire monitoring network.

Publication Date



This is the post-print of an article published by CSIRO. Copyright 2003 CSIRO Publishing. The final, published version is located here: https://doi.org/10.1071/WF02055

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration supported this work under Grant NAG5-10051. Its financial support has been greatly appreciated.ISSN:1049-8001

Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus