There’s a reason home smoke alarms work. Early fire detection can save lives and property. That also holds true for wildfires. 

“The whole key to keeping these fires small is rapid response,” said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy. “So, any tool that will allow us to respond much faster is going to be key to it.”  

Newport Beach 15-year-old Ryan Honary believes he’s developed just such a tool. It’s basically a smoke alarm for remote areas at risk for wildfires. The small device runs on two AA batteries and has three sensors that Ryan says can detect smoke, flames and heat.   

Ryan envisions deploying the devices all around remote, fire prone areas. He says the system is designed to work even in canyons with no cellular coverage. That’s because he designed it as a mesh network, where one device can send information to other devices until that information finally reaches some of his other equipment that does have a cellular signal. 

“It will use built in cellular to communicate that information to my app where, one, firefighters can see where the fire is and act on it,” the teen said. “And two, people in the path of the fire can see if the fire is coming towards them (and) they can evacuate.” 

The device, according to the young inventor, is basically a smoke detector that can be used in remote areas prone to wildfires. (KTLA)

Ryan says his system will also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict where the fire will grow.  

Over the last several years, Ryan’s idea has evolved from award winning science fair project into a business named Sensory AI. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy has invested in the company and is allowing Ryan to test his system on some of its land. OCFA’s Chief Fennessy is also involved as an unpaid advisor. 

“What I’d really like to see is this program expand, demonstrate the efficacy and the effectiveness of it and see it in some more remote areas of the West,” Fennessy said. 

If Ryan’s research and development go as planned, his system could be ready to be deployed in real world situations sometime next year.