Saying NO to the Next Inferno!

Reliably preventing deadly wildfires with a low-cost mesh-network system for immediate flame detection

Photo of Vasya T

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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

"Hi, my name is Vasily Tremsin, and I'm from Lafayette, California. In the fall of 2017, I witnessed the disastrous Northern California wildfires first-hand -- we had days when schools and workplaces were closed due to the extreme amount of smoke. Seeing thousands of burned acres and billions of dollars lost, I thought -- how could this possibly happen in 2018? Well, the only reason that these wildfires caused so much damage is that they weren't detected early enough. I was inspired to take action and change this reality, to invent a method that will finally detect wildfires at the earliest stage, before it's too late. I created a novel, low-cost system that can immediately detect wildfires using multiple stages of verification and a distributed, mesh network design. I believe that this idea can prevent destructive fires in communities in the US and around the world."

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Fires are a critical problem in today’s communities worldwide. In October 2017, devastating wildfires in Northern California burned through 245,000 acres of land, caused at least 9.4 billion dollars in damages and destroyed more than 8,900 structures. Many thousands of wildfires ignite on our planet annually. Therefore, it is crucial to immediately detect wildfires at the earliest stage and not allow flames to develop into unstoppable infernos.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

As opposed to traditional detection systems, my method is radically low-cost and employs a multivariable approach to immediately detect wildfires with high confidence. It is a based on a mesh network of low-cost data acquisition devices (~$10-$40 each) placed throughout large areas of land, up to several miles apart. Every device is solar powered and wirelessly connected to all other devices and to the user's computer, transferring all data in real time. The system continuously measures and processes multiple variables: thermal infrared imaging, spectral analysis, near-infrared measurement, gas signature analysis, and artificial intelligence image classification. I designed a separate reconstruction algorithm that takes real-time measurements of all sensors in the mesh network and models smoke clouds, adjusting for wind and other environmental variables. Therefore, the system can detect and pinpoint early-stage wildfires even when they are completely out of the line of sight. Since the detection method features multiple stages of verification, the system was proven to eliminate false positives and reliably detect the earliest wildfires, while they can still be stopped.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Let's say that Santa Rosa County had installed my affordable system to protect itself from wildfire damage. The entire city and its surroundings could be protected for a price much smaller than installing even one existing detector unit. When multiple flames ignited on the night of October 8th, the city's firefighting stations would immediately receive multiple warnings from my system and take action to put out the fire. This would prevent flames spreading and turning into huge, deadly fires that are impossible to contain. The city and the entire region in California would save thousands of acres of land, billions of dollars in damage, while preventing American fatalities. Moreover, the same principle of installing my system could be applied to many other regions around the world, where fires continue to destroy huge areas, cause heavy financial damage and kill humans.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The biggest caveat in traditional wildfire detection systems is their inability to detect early fires. Furthermore, most instruments depend on only one-variable measurement. This creates numerous instances of false positives which can lead to bothersome warnings. Most present systems remain extremely expensive ($20,000+ for one unit), and cannot be implemented on a wide scale. My method uses many low-cost devices connected in a mesh-network, rather than one highly advanced and expensive instrument. Therefore, firefighters will be able to reliably monitor wildfires over large areas at once.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

I have contacted the California forestry service, a PG&E Risk Management & Insurance analyst, as well as two independent fire safety consultants to show them my project and attempt to test my mesh network system during a California prescribed burn in the fall... In addition, I've presented my invention to fellow students at Campolindo High School school, as well as to a board of science teachers who were interested to learn more about it. In the future, I will contact more companies and fire professionals in addition to the people I have contacted at the moment, as well as city and local government officials to assess the opinion of lawmakers and potential buyers on my invention.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

To bring the project one step closer to preventing fire destruction, I need to test my system in the middle a large, real-life fire scenario. As you might well imagine, I cannot set off huge fires to test my project, nor am I willing to do so :) I must develop relationships with fire professionals and potentially measure the system on a planned wildlife burn. However, I will also need financial resources to conduct a full-scale test, since I need to build many prototypes of data acquisition devices, each containing various electronics (at this stage I've built and tested 4 of these devices). My ultimate goal is to fully develop this novel system that will remain very low-cost and accessible to any country, state, or community.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Unfortunately, at the moment I have little to no outside support from my school, peers, or adults. I completed the research process individually, and am now looking to bring my idea to directly influence the lives of people around me and millions of other humans that have already been affected or will be affected by fires. I am presently in the process of creating a website that will demonstrate and explain my invention in a clear and interactive manner; I hope that this will allow me to attract people with resources and directly connect with them. All in all, I am actively looking for ways to conduct full-scale testing of my system as well as searching for sources of funding.

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Since wildfire is a prevalent problem, I believe that most people are interested in an affordable way to prevent fire destruction, casualties, and money loss. I want to engage students and enthusiasts in the fight against devastating wildfires and fires in general by providing a simple way to install my system in their own communities and regions. First, I would attempt to establish a connection with city officials and fire professionals, especially in more fire-prone areas where precautionary measures are a hot topic. I could send data acquisition devices to schools in the form of kits that students would work on, simultaneously providing a form of hands-on science education. I could potentially partner with other "changemakers" who present their ideas on new education clubs and courses in schools, which will let me to effectively connect with participants. If possible, I wish to publicize my invention, showing people that installing the preventative, early-warning system is worth it -- to not lose land, human lives and billions of dollars from flames. I will do my best to convey the importance of early wildfire detection to the general public and not allow more deadly blazes.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Mark Gutierrez

This is a really great idea. Currently in Colorado there is a wildfire that is not currently contained. If this was made, it would help prevent fires and contain fires. This is a very well thought out idea and this would be a great advancement in technology.

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