SAN DIEGO — An Encinitas firefighter is hoping to change the game when it comes to early detection and prevention of wildfires.

Thorr Enterprise‘s Chad Delude, a fire captain with Encinitas Fire Department, developed an aerial monitoring system that combines state of the art cameras and drone capabilities that detect wildfires faster and with more accuracy. 

During a demonstration Wednesday in Rancho Santa Fe, a drone operating autonomously using smart technology (Hextronics) returned to homeport after checking out what could have been a wildfire.

“Our best chance to save life and property is early detection and early mitigation, and so we work on the earliest detection and the most accurate detection that’s out there,” Delude said to FOX 5.

Delude has 24 years under his belt, and after years of ruminating over how to attack wildfires faster and with more accuracy, he developed Armor Protection System, a multi-pronged early detection and prevention service to battle wildfires before they grow. Using state-of-the-art, high-tech cameras that are fully mobile and can be placed anywhere, the detection service surveys land 24/7. The smart technology uses infra-red and heat-seeking capabilities to hone in and identify if a heat impression is actually what’s called a class A fire – that’s brush and debris and is hotter than 300 degrees.

“My camera is 80% of what we detect … those are the ones that we can zoom in and we can see that they’re uncontrolled … we don’t want to be sending our precious resources to find that out, so that’s where we activate a secondary system of the drones, to be able to respond to the area, to be able to give it overhead,” Delude said.

Initially, he envisioned the technology used by fire departments, but soon found private landowners in remote areas could not only better protect their property from fire, but in the unfortunate scenario they suffer a lost, the technology assist in cost recovery by easily identifying what sparked it. But fire detection is only one area of unlimited possibilities.

“We are a wildfire-detection service, but through our drone program are able to cover a lot of different instances — hazmat, bluff collapse.”

Firefighters agree, the time is now for this potentially life- and property-saving technology. 

“It’s portable. It’s great that private homeowners will be able to use them for both security and fire. For us as public agencies, it will be nice to be able to better protect our areas.”