NRMA Fireblanket


NRMA Fireblanket is an always-on bushfire detection and monitoring network, designed to use sense of smell to pinpoint, track and predict bushfire movement. Wireless Sensor Nodes are placed on existing infrastructure to form a mesh network around at-risk communities, giving firefighters critical knowledge to manage bushfires and protect Australians.

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  • NRMA Insurance, Australia’s largest insurer, has always helped communities rebuild after bushfires. Since 2000, bushfires have killed 198 people, destroyed 4000 homes and cost the economy over $4billion. Yet home insurance is still a grudge purchase. The industry is struggling to justify its value. With 68% of Australians concerned about their community’s resilience against bushfires something needed to be done. NRMA wanted to help communities in a different way, by meaningfully demonstrating their brand purpose - to make the world a safer place. So, NRMA briefed us to help them make communities more resilient to bushfires.

  • Australian bushfires can't be stopped but can be managed if identified early enough. Currently, line-of-sight is the common method of detecting bushfires, but you often smell bushfires before seeing them. Our solution, ‘Fireblanket.’ A first of its kind, always-on bushfire detection and monitoring network using calibrated dust particle sensors to smell, pinpoint, track and predict where bushfires can spread, equipping fire authorities with timely information to manage bushfires more effectively. Importantly it starts to realise NRMA Insurance’ purpose - to make the world a safer place - pivoting them from remedy to prevention.

  • Since 2016, over 8 million Australians have engaged with Fireblanket communications. In 2017, Scientific agency, CSIRO Data61 validated the prototype and collaborated on the next iteration. The Rural Fire Service then demonstrated that Fireblanket could detect bushfires faster than current methods. The pilot proved it could identify fire, map smoke-density and provide insight for prediction. An always-on system means bushfire intelligence can be shared to those that manage it best. Fireblanket has broadened NRMA Insurance from remedy to prevention. In turn greenlighting evaluation by councils and property developers with the aim to protect at-risk communities across Australia.

  • Calibrated for Australia. Sensors and software is finely tuned to Australian bushfires which are made up of unique chemical-compounds (eg.eucalyptus). Using a combination of dust particle (PM2.5/10) and CO/CO2 sensors Fireblanket is designed to distinguish bushfire from BBQ smoke. Casing that communicates. Designed to ensure anyone can understand how the device functions, with a lower intake section, an open mesh structure that show how air flows through the device. The mesh is inspired by the node network but protects the sensors to collect vital data. Modular and repairable. The exposed fasteners, while providing a ruggedized appearance, allow for quick access to the internals for servicing as well as the ability to switch out certain parts of the external chassis if they are damaged in the field. Nodes that network. Nodes simply fasten to existing infrastructure forming a mesh wireless network around at-risk communities. Once smoke is detected, nodes communicate, triangulating the fire’s position. Authorities are then alerted. Meanwhile fire is tracked via smoke density and modelling software helping predict fire spread for preventive action. Affordable and scalable. Affordable off-the-shelf IoT hardware blended will accelerate commercialisation. Whilst built for Australia the learnings can tackle wildfires anywhere.