Hawaii to deploy upgraded wildfire sensors after Maui fires

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said his state is the first in the nation to deploy a new type of wildfire sensor that includes solar power.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green delivers remarks as President Joe Biden listens during a visit to an area devastated by wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 21, 2023. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green on Friday announced the state plans to deploy 80 wildfire sensors and 16 wind sensors across the state. The announcement comes seven months after deadly wildfires tore through the island of Maui last August.

The sensors are designed to allow first responders to suppress initial blazes before they spread, buying extra time for communities to make decisions on evacuations or resource distribution. Hawaii will be the first state to receive the new wildfire sensors, and at no cost, through a deal with N5 Sensors Inc. and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to the announcement.

“We welcome this early alert system and are grateful to our federal partners for providing these wildfire and wind sensors to help keep our communities safe,” Green at a press briefing Friday. “We have seen how rapid and devastating wildfires can be. No community, throughout our island state or elsewhere, should ever have to experience so much suffering and loss. This technology will help to save the lives of Hawaii residents and visitors.”

The new wildfire detection sensors were developed by DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate and the U.S. Fire Administration over the past five years. They collected more than 1 million hours of data across the U.S. during a 2023 pilot program, according to DHS.


A new beta version of the sensors use solar power to recharge themselves and are equipped with wind sensors to increase the accuracy of wildfire location prediction. The updated sensors can operate in areas with limited cellular coverage, identifying changes in conditions before wildfires start and sending real-time notifications to first responders via email or text message.

“Protecting our nation’s homelands against fire and hazardous threats requires continued collaborative research and development in the field of firefighting,” U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore Merrell said in a statement. “The deployment of these sensors marks a major step forward in wildfire prevention and mitigation, enhancing our capabilities for predicting the incidence and spread of large-scale fires.”

In addition to functioning in all weather conditions, officials said, the new sensors are compact enough to be mounted on utility poles or traffic lights.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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