Scheduling aerial resource operations for the extinction of large-scale wildfires


The significant increase in large-scale wildfire events in recent decades, caused primarily by climate change, has resulted in a growing number of aerial resources being used in suppression efforts. Present-day management lacks efficient and scalable algorithms for complex aerial resource allocation and scheduling for the extinction of such fires, which is crucial to ensuring safety while maximizing the efficiency of operations. In this work, we present a Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) optimization model tailored to large-scale wildfires for the daily scheduling of aerial operations. The main objective is to achieve a prioritized target water flow over all areas of operation and all time periods. Minimal target completion across individual areas and time periods and total water output are also maximized as secondary and ternary objectives, respectively. An efficient and scalable multi-start heuristic, combining a randomized greedy approach with simulated annealing employing large neighborhood search techniques, is proposed for larger instances. A diverse set of problem instances is generated with varying sizes and extinction strategies to test the approaches. Results indicate that the heuristic can achieve (near)-optimal solutions for smaller instances solvable by the MILP, and gives solutions approaching target water flows for larger problem sizes. The algorithm is parallelizable and has been shown to give promising results in a small number of iterations, making it applicable for both night-before planning and, more time-sensitive, early-morning scheduling.

Omega, Vol. 122, PP. 102941, DOI: