Portugal has the technology to prevent and fight fires

  • ECO News
  • 20 June 2017

Portugal has products and ideas to mitigate fires. Yet, in a country tormented by them, the market does not seem open to this type of technology. ECO shows you five projects made in Portugal.

Forest fires in Portugal are a recurring problem — as we could see from this weekend’s fire in Pedrógão Grande, which caused the death of over six dozen people. ECO found fire prevention and fire fighting technologies made in Portugal. There are ideas for drones, apps and satellites. Get to know these five projects, ideas and companies.


Flicks Systems was founded in 2013 in Oporto. It is now dedicated to environmental monitoring, but the company once developed forest fires’ prevention solutions resorting to satellites. They would use a sensor to measure even the smallest variations in temperature or carbon dioxide at a 12 kilometers distance, which allows for an immediate detection of the fire. However, the idea was never implemented, because it was never possible to merge this technology into a national prevention system.

SparroWatch: a clever birds’ nest

The group is called OOZ Labs, and their idea was to prevent fires by using bird houses. The houses are made of wood, have a small solar panel on their roof, and they have a Wi-Fi network connecting them, which sends information to the central system; the bird houses can make all kinds of measurements (temperature, humidity, CO2). Therefore, SparroWatch can indicate drier areas that need to be cleaned as a priority — focusing on prevention.

Giff: monitorizing and controlled burning

ECO contacted Giff, a company which focuses on forest investments’ risk analysis and mainly on controlled burning. This technique can be described as the action of purposefully causing a controlled fire to eliminate the excess forest fuels — which are usually the main reason why fires make such a quick progress.

Fogos.pt: a programmer and a firefighter walk into a bar…

Fogos.pt is a Portuguese website which grants real time information about active fires in Portugal, which is updated by João Pina in his free time. The idea came from a coffeehouse conversation with some of his firefighters friends: João Pina realized there was a need to show incidents more clearly and so he implemented his self-sustainable project, which can now be found in an app for iOS and Android. At the moment, notifications are not working, but when they were, the app would warn firefighters faster than the Portuguese Civil Protection itself, João Pina stated.

Drones: a conceptual idea

The engineer André Luz told ECO about his disruptive idea for a concept he assures could be used to prevent and fight forest fires in Portugal: drones. He aims to create two types of drones. The first would be a fixed wing drone which monitors fires through an infrared camera, capable of seeing through the smoke. The second would be a diesel rotary wing drone, capable of transporting containers holding a chemical product similar to that of fire extinguishers and also capable of spreading it onto the fire, which could help extinguish the flames.