Bikes in a city.

Can sound stop forest fires?

Written by Helena Paulsson
Future Cities Insight #4 Can sound stop forest fires?
This is Charlotte and Manne Friman. Spouses and acousticians at Efterklang, part of AFRY! We usually work in Stockholm, but during two months we have relocated to USA. We left the cold fall in Sweden for a warmer one in Los Angeles, where we continue our ongoing assignments. Doesn’t it sound nice to work in a warmer climate?

However, the climate changes have made a frightening impact on the temperatures in California. At the moment there are ongoing forest fires with several causalities, homes ruined and even a burned down town. There have been a long drought in California which have made the landscape dry and frail to forest fires. Due to the new climate, the critical season for fires in California is now all year round. 90 % of the fires are started by humans, intentional and unintentional.


Challenges of fire-fighting

The Woolsey fire, which is actively burning north of Los Angeles, is in steep terrain making it inaccessible for firetrucks. Firefighters have to walk in with all the water they are able carry, around 10-20 liters, in addition to their heavy equipment. The fire-fighting is hard work! The fire was 0 % contained for several days and strong winds made the fire spread rapidly.

Swedish firefighters faced similar challenges in Sweden this summer. Inaccessible fires in forests and terrains called for alternative fire-fighting methods. The Swedish air force fought fire with fire with JAS-Gripen airplanes. They dropped a bomb on the fire when it was closing in on nearby communities. The shock wave from the bomb extinguished the fires by putting out the oxygen for a short period of time at the front of the wave.

A selfie of a man and a woman on a mountain in California.
Charlotte and Manne Friman.


Helena Paulsson - VP and Head of Business Area Architecture and Design

Helena Paulsson

VP and Head of Business Area Architecture and Design

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