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CAL FIRE Law Enforcement Deploys Leica Geosystems' New Leica ScanStation 2 to Support Fire Investigations and Recovery of Fire Suppression Costs

August 7, 2007
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(Norcross, Ga.) – The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has selected the Leica ScanStation 2 laser scanner from Leica Geosystems to support fire investigations on its over 31 million acres of responsibility. Developed for versatility and productivity, the Leica ScanStation 2 provides investigators with a powerful tool for fire scene reconstruction by enabling the rapid collection of millions of high accuracy measurements at the scene. The 3D scan data can then be used to analyze the pre-fire spatial relationships and geometry between trees, branches, terrain, structures and nearby utilities.

The ScanStation 2 is a highly mobile laser scanner platform that is uniquely suited to the speed, accuracy and mobility requirements of a fire services organization. The introduction of the Leica ScanStation 2, this month, brings exponential increases in scan speeds up to 50,000 points/second.

CAL FIRE’s first introduction to the benefits of 3D laser scanning emerged in the aftermath of a fire several years ago that started when a dead tree fell on a power line. When questions arose as to how the fire started, CAL FIRE called in a local laser scanning consultant to map the area. Using data from a Leica Geosystems laser scanner, the agency was able to show that due to insufficient forest maintenance in the vicinity of power lines, a utility company was responsible for the subsequent fire. The detailed fire scene reconstruction, enabled by the Leica Geosystems’ laser scanner, was instrumental in helping CAL FIRE recover over $10 million in fire suppression costs. Since this first application, CAL FIRE has used laser scanning technology to investigate a number of fire scenes throughout the state of California.

Tom Hoffman, Chief of Law Enforcement for CAL FIRE says, “We’re very excited about having this tool readily available to our investigators and law enforcement personnel. Our goal is to find the truth by determining a reliable and accurate representation of the actual events. Laser scanning can help us do that. Ideally suited to fire investigation, it’s quick, very mobile, highly accurate, and most important, provides clarity of evidence in a visually friendly way.”

Once the 3D scan data is collected, fire investigators can virtually revisit the scene at any time to make additional measurements as the scope of their investigation changes. The digital data can also be imported into CAD or specialized software to create a physical model, rendering or even virtual animations.

Tony Grissim, Public Safety and Forensic Account Manager for Leica Geosystems, summarizes, “Fire scene reconstruction is a growing application area for our scanners as both attorneys and insurance companies come to realize the compelling nature of scan data collected by fire investigators. The findings from investigations like these can mean the difference between millions of dollars in pay outs or, in some cases, people going to prison.”

Leica Geosystems – when it has to be right

With close to 200 years of pioneering solutions to measure the world, Leica Geosystems products and services are trusted by professionals worldwide to help them capture, analyze, and present spatial information. Leica Geosystems is best known for its broad array of products that capture accurately, model quickly, analyze easily, and visualize and present spatial information.

Those who use Leica products every day trust them for their dependability, the value they deliver, and the superior customer support. Based in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, Leica Geosystems is a global company with tens of thousands of customers supported by more than 2,400 employees in 22 countries and hundreds of partners located in more than 120 countries around the world. Leica Geosystems is part of the Hexagon Group, Sweden.

Source: Leica Geosystems, August 6, 2007

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