Working Together to Fight Wildfires

AT&T Blog Team
May 27, 2022
Public Safety

Working Together to Fight Wildfires

In an emergency, we know that no connection is more important than one that can save a life. And, with wildfire season arriving earlier and more severely across drought-impacted states in the West, deliberate coordination and agile communication will be top of mind for impacted communities and first responders.

Recently, we’ve seen the devastating impact of natural disasters, including in the following states:

  • Alaska: May has seen devastating floods across the state, leading the Governor to make disaster declarations and first responders from a number of agencies and relief organizations to mobilize.
  • California: In 2020, an area larger than the state of Connecticut burned in the state. And, already this year, the state has seen more than 1,400 fires that have together burned 6,500+ acres.
  • New Mexico: First responders are currently battling the Cerro Pelado and Calf Canyon-Hermit’s Peak fire, which combined have burned over 280,000 acres, forcing thousands of residents from their homes.
  • Texas: Since December 2021, state and local firefighters have responded to 2,500+ fires for a total of more than 210,000 acres burned.

The stories we are hearing on the ground are ones of profound commitment and solidarity amongst fire fighters, first responders and community members. But the already enormous toll on both affected local communities and those tasked with repelling the blazes is intensifying.

That’s why FirstNet, Built with AT&T – the nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for first responders  – is working across the region to deploy specialized, innovative tools in support of first responders.

  • Deployments:
    • SatCOLTs, dedicated portable network assets from the FirstNet fleet, are being deployed to provide unthrottled communications between responders on the frontlines and those posted at remote command centers. FirstNet SatCOLTs were most recently used in both New Mexico’s fight against wildfires and Alaska’s response to recent floods.
    • FirstNet Response Operations – led by former first responders – guides the deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets based on the needs of public safety, coordinating across federal, state, local and tribal agencies.
  • Tools:
    • Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPPT) which now includes FirstNet Rapid Response. This new voice, video and data solution gives public safety greater situational awareness and more informed emergency response.
    • Mobile hotspots, available on equipped FirstNet Ready(R) devices, are giving first responders the ability to use their laptops in the field.

These deployments are a part of our continued commitment to providing the tools first responders need to keep our communities safe.  We are also committed to helping communities rebuild in the wake of natural disasters.

  • AT&T Network Disaster Recovery is one of the largest programs of its kind with over $650 million invested in the U.S. When areas are affected by natural disasters, our team’s sole mission is to restore communications to those affected communities.
  • American Red Cross’ Disaster Responder Program, of which we are a proud member, enables the Red Cross to respond wherever and whenever disasters occur.
  • World Central Kitchen (WCK) is on the ground in New Mexico and across the globe getting meals to people in times of crisis. We are proud to support WCK and their work to help communities recover from disasters.

And we’ve expanded our forward-looking climate data to include insights into future wildfires and droughts across the contiguous 48 states.

  • As always, this data is available to the public, which allows AT&T and the people and the communities we serve to apply it to their own climate adaptation efforts.

We are also making sure that communities are connected to resources to plan ahead for emergencies and natural disasters using tools from AT&T and other organizations:

Helping public safety agencies complete their mission will always be our top priority. As public safety’s network provider, we are proud to work side by side with first responders to help ensure that our communities receive the support they need, this year’s wildfire season and in years to come.