In a year that has been fraught with wildfires burning across the west, consuming hundreds of thousands of acres, a new app is being piloted in Arizona to locate the source of fires by mapping hundreds of construction sites.
In Scottsdale, AZ, the fire inspector visits every one of the many home construction sites going up in the foothills, an area that is a tinderbox for wildfires. The brush is thick and dry, and the area has burned before and many of the fires can be traced to builders and construction equipment.
“Last year we had several construction sites – mostly residential – that fires originated on,” said inspector Joe Kamal to AZFamily News.
The biggest threats for fire on these home sites are welding, cutting, and machinery too close to brush. The inspector visits every site checks to make sure that everything is in good condition—which, he says, it almost always is—and then enters the GPS location onto an app along with information about the tools being used on the site.
If a fire breaks out, the fire inspectors can use that information to track the fire to its source. “If we do have a fire out there and its investigated and its shown for negligence, it does give us some recourse,” Kamal said.
He says that the vast majority of sites are in compliance and that he hands out few citations. He says that his focus is mostly on education. But the app is there in case it’s needed.