SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - As Arizona wraps up another very dry monsoon season, the Scottsdale Fire Department has developed a system to help prevent and track brush fires – software to keep track of potential fire threats.

Fire inspector Joe Kamal drives all over town looking for construction sites to visit to see how their fire safety checks out.

“Last year we had several construction sites – mostly residential – that fires originated on,” he said.

Some of the biggest potential fire threats are welding, cutting, and any heavy machinery that’s too close to the brush. A common issue on site is when workers don’t have a fire extinguisher or a water hose close enough to the work area. Whatever issues Kamal finds (or doesn’t find) is now logged directly into an app that automatically geo-maps the construction site's location.

“If we do have a fire out there and its investigated and its shown for negligence, it does give us some recourse,” he said.

Many of the recent fires have been in areas Kamal calls an urban-wildland interface -- places where new home builds are in the thick of desert brush (much of north Scottsdale fits that bill).

Arizona’s Family rode along with Kamal on a recent inspection route. He arrives unannounced to the sites and checks for water supply. The inspector says the vast majority of contractors he talks to are very compliant. If he does find problems, though, the geomap will help the department connect the dots if and when the flames burn.

While Kamal does have the authority to issue citations, but his visits are usually friendly reminders.

“Our biggest emphasis is on education,” he said.


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