As unprecedented wildfires ravage California and much of the West, firefighters have taken innovative steps to try to keep up with the flames. An array of new and existing technologies has been pulled into the fray—including fireball-dropping drones and repurposed passenger jets—to enhance ground-based, time-tested techniques.
Fighting fires still depends on cutting firebreaks, setting backfires, and spraying water. The best tools are often simple ones: water hoses, bulldozers, brush-clearing axes.
However, in an age where climate change is promoting more and bigger fires that consume millions of acres in a single season, the profession of firefighting must be quicker, safer, and cover greater ground—even as a spreading pandemic makes the work that much harder.
Because of their size and maneuverability,