Costs to suppress fires

In designing the prize (click “show” below to review the proposed prize structure), we need to understand the current cost of business-as-usual solutions for suppressing wildfires. This is a space where we think innovation could bring great improvement.

Proposed Prize (click “show” to view):
Wildfire XPRIZE - Rapid, precise and autonomous detection and suppression of wildfires to prevent the loss of life and assets

The Winning Team will autonomously detect and extinguish a spreading wildfire in a large, controlled area in 10 minutes or less.

The prize design:
Each finalist team will be assigned a 1,000 km2 (20X20 mile) grid. On test day, in that grid, XPRIZE will create several small, decoy stationary fires and one hazardous target fire. Once the fire is moving, or reaches 2 meters in diameter, the team will have 10 minutes to autonomously extinguish the target fire and any spot fires, while leaving the decoy fires untouched.

In our research, we’ve seen wildly variable cost estimates. We would love to see any firsthand experiences or examples you have from your projects of the costs involved with suppression.

What are realistic benchmarks? What insight might you have to the costs?

Please share any links, examples, or insights you might have - the community’s input on this prize design so far has been really valuable, and we appreciate all of your expertise!

Hello all, in addition to the questions above, would be interesting to hear any opinions on factors and priorities affecting the cost of suppression; i.e., is introducing the system to one authority/marketplace or another important to consider when thinking of cost? Why? What else? Thank you for your insights

Initial thoughts about some operational requirements:

  1. Testing area of (X=200 by X=200 m^2) 10 acres (200X200 m^2), contains dense/mature/ very dry pine trees of some sort. Fire line of 10m in width crosses the center of testing area (similar to real life).
  2. ndustrial blowers of large scale create wind currents in extent of 10-20 knots if required.
  3. The game begins at NIGHT when the following threshold’s combination (Y) is set out:
  • 2-3 trees are geting burned.
  • The surface average temperature above the canopies is well above 800 celsius degress.
  • The average flame hight is at least 3m.
  1. The fire situation awareness picture is created 5-10 minutes after the game begins.
  2. The fire is fully contained along the fire line untill the fire is fully extinguished. It is expected to last about (Z=)1 hour by dispersing no more than 100 tone of water.
  3. The overall cost ($C) is under assessment.
  4. The operation is managed under strict risk assessment plan, aiming to avoide of putting lives and environment at risk.

I wonder if that meets the expectations.

I’m just sharing some thoughts about the commercial cost issue. For starters I asked myself what are the current business model and what is the annual cost (for governments). I’ve found out that the current economical model is based on multiyear contract of constant annual payment with or without an operation in emergency situation. Flight hours cost in emergency situation is added to that. It’s quite hard to get a clear picture about those numbers as if each country and state all over the world delivers partial and unmethodical data to the public (#litres’ drop, # flight hours, total aerial operation cost). By reviewing multiple formal websites, I’ve put together an annual global picture of dropping 300 million litre at cost of $3 billon (50-80 mill litre in the USA. The same amount in Australia). That’s to say total of $10 per litre drop in average.

That analysis enlights the way to prpose a totaly different approach of much simpler business model for all stakeholders at all levels. I suggest by implementing Water Dome system, the government will pay for litre drop only. That’s it. The total cost is expected to be significantly reduced even if the cost stays the same per litre as today. The reason is that Water Dome system is much more effective (accurate, less time of operation, night operation and more…) in compare to the current free dump method implemented by air tankers.

From the business viability point of view, intersting question is about the COGS (Cost Of Good Sold). I’ll add to that later on.

@Almog thanks again for all your input. Do you know of any good resources where we can get up to speed on this concept of a Water Dome?

Sightline Institute (here in Seattle) aggregates environmental news stories from all over. Here is a recent one on WILDFIRE PREVENTION (in California) which relates to the COST question, but in a rather ‘radical’ fashion (for both the electric utility and consumers):

California utility may cut power in 30 counties in a dramatic step to prevent wildfires

Real World Costs:

This drastic solution (that will help prevent those fires sparked by electrical wires) may be quite effective in limiting wildfire damage (to homes and infrastructure). The ‘cost’ here is in the form of revenue lost (by the Utility) and any cost to consumers as far as compensatory actions to make up for the lost electricity during the intentional ‘black outs’ (e.g., investment in gas-powered generators {risky} or solar panels {safer, but less energy output} to run refrigeration, air-conditioning, necessary electronics, etc.).

Cost to XPrize Teams (Does it apply?):

With a prevention/suppression plan in place – one that includes these limited duration power shut downs – the cost to a Wildfire Suppression challenge team could be substantially reduced (in those area where there are houses and power supply lines and electrically-powered infrastructure) by eliminating or reducing a known wildfire cause (that would impact on the constructed ‘facade town’ scenario) and thus obviating the need to ‘solve for’ or deal with this cause (as a factor to be controlled) in an actual Wildfire Suppression Test.


Do we establish this ‘nuclear option’ (possibly a bad metaphor there) as an option in the context of a challenge competition? That is: given a hypothetical collaboration with the local power company (supplying power to the communities at high risk from wildfire spread, etc.)…do we give all teams the choice of using this power shut down option in our designed test fire zone?

If so, how do we implement or replicate or *represent *the power shut down in the course of a challenge test run?

How do we score suppression efforts (how do we estimate its impact on the fire?) if this option is permitted (which is to say: How do we calculate its value for a suppression challenge effort?)

Or, do we* simply ignore this option for our Wildfire Challenge* or designate it beyond the purview and scope of the XPrize Challenge or the teams’ capabilities?

Dear @"DavidPoli ".
To be perfectly honest, I’ve developed the Water Dome concept over the past 5 years with the following achievements:

  1. Scientific desk research regarding amount of water needed and environmental conditions required to contain fire front. System requirements defined.

  2. Establishing concept and initial system design level based on the following: disintegrating gliders, command & control operational procedures, aerial carriers (drones, gyrocopters, helicopters, fix wing) and operational site.

  3. Successful airworthiness validation flight test with Half-Size prototype accomplished. Prototype #1 of Command and Control Application successfully tested by firefighters at operation level.

  4. Successful water dispersal method validation in ground test accomplished

  5. Successful water dispersal method validation in flight testbased on full size prototype #2 of glider accomplished. Three successful operations.

I believe we’re fully experience and having the capabilities to meet the @XPRIZE requirements of some sort. The cost of the demonstration depends mainly on the amount of required water as if more water requires more gliders. I can calculate the amount of water after given the final Fail/Success requirements.

I hope we could get the chance to bring this valuable capability off the ground with @XPRIZE 's support.

My invention of a Water-CO2 Cluster Bombs (CB) device for fire suppression produces a significant cost reduction.

  1. In the conventional way, water is thrown over the flames. Only 23% serve to extinguish the rest evaporates before reaching its goal. The plastic containers with water and CO2 at high pressure reach the base of the flames where they explode, displacing the air and dispersing the water that in contact with hot gases at 400 ° C or more, from the fire is transformed into superheated steam, which It complements the displacement of the air which eliminates one of the four factors necessary for combustion. In this way, in addition, it breaks the chain of the chemical reaction necessary to maintain combustion producing a discontinuity in the burning area. That is, it eliminates a second factor necessary to maintain combustion. By throwing water on the burning area now, it reaches the base of the flames, taking advantage of 100 percent.
  2. The wildfire fight is considered to consist of two parts, the Control and Extinguish of the wildfire. The first objective is Control and is to extinguish a strip in the head of the fire that prevents the fire from spreading. Followed by a similar action that allows to form a peripheral strip. By this way with a low water consumption, the propagation of the fire has been avoided. If a total extinction is made or not, it will depend on what determines the best management of the forest. It might be useful to let dead trees or bushes that could serve as fuel for future wildfires be burned.
  3. In addition to saving water, there is a considerable reduction in the time required to control a wildfire. And therefore, a reduction in the flight hours of airplanes or helicopters destined to combat wildfires.

See cluster bombs Water - CO2 at high pressure:
**English. Ficha N° 1a. 01.10.2019.pdf - Google Drive
See how the Cluster Bombs Water - CO2 at high pressure, manage to control the wildfire:
**English. Ficha N° 2a. 01.10.2019.pdf - Google Drive

Just received a patent allowance. Drone to fight fire without use water or chemical.
see New concept to fight wildland fire.

Reduction of the cost of suppression
In addition to my Post Nov 5. 6th, I can add the following:
My invention of Water-CO2 Cluster Bombs (CB) device for fire suppression produces a significant reduction in flight hours for the launch of water.
The Water-CO2 Bombs establish a strip of fire discontinuity. In this way, it is enough to throw water only at the interface of the “fire head” with the area of unburned vegetation to limit the progress of the flames and allow the rest of the strip to form when the vegetation burns. See Data Sheet No. 7 that explains it: Ficha N° 7. 15.11.2019. Autoextinción.pdf - Google Drive