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New Technology Tested In Boulder Could Help Fight Wildfires

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- New technology was tested in Boulder on Friday that could help fight wildfires across the country. The same technology has been used at the Super Bowl and Boston Marathon.

The wildfire training in action exercises started on Friday and continued in Boulder on Saturday. The exercises included a helicopter spotter plane and 300 firefighters and emergency responders from 25 agencies. The drill included everything but fire. And also new technology that could save lives.

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"We're testing communication skills, we're testing our pre-fire attack plans. And even an average fire year is a busy fire year. That's a lot of risk and threat," said Boulder Wildland Fire spokesman Dave Zader.

The new tool they're testing could revolutionize firefighting.

"We have crews kind of up in this area so we can see them in real time," said PAR Government Director of Applied Technology David Tally.

It's been used by special forces and the FBI for years. The developer decided to adapt it to firefighting after 19 firefighters died in Arizona.

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"There were a lot of us that were like, 'We've got to get this kind of technology in the hands of these guys," said Tally.

The technology allows firefighters to receive and send real time data about fire patterns and behavior, weather conditions and crew locations via phone even when they're in areas without cell reception, using a backpack with a mobile network.

"It's kind of a bring-your-own network. The more people that are carrying this the better network that you have," said Tally.

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That network puts firefighters in direct communication with each other, incident command and air support.

"To look through the smoke and see us walking around on the ground can broadcast that down to us. It's a game changer. It allows us to do a lot of things that we've never been able to do," said Zader.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit's Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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