Fire lookout tower
A fire lookout tower, fire tower or lookout tower, provides housing and protection for a person known as a "fire lookout" whose duty it is to search for wildfires in the wilderness. The fire lookout tower is a small building, usually located on the summit of a mountain or other high vantage point, in order to maximize the viewing distance and range, known as view shed. From this vantage point the fire lookout can see smoke that may develop, determine the location by using a device known as an Osborne Fire Finder, and call fire suppression personnel to the fire. Lookouts also report weather changes and plot the location of lightning strikes during storms. The location of the strike is monitored for a period of days after in case of ignition.
The typical fire lookout tower consists of a small room, known as a cab located atop a large steel, or wooden tower. Historically, the tops of tall trees have also been used to mount permanent platforms. Sometimes natural rock may be used to create a lower platform. In cases where the terrain makes a tower unnecessary, the structure is known as a ground cab. Ground cabs are called towers, even if they don't sit on a tower.
Although many fire lookout towers have fallen into disrepair as a result of neglect, abandonment, and declining budgets, some fire service personnel have made an effort to preserve older fire towers, arguing that a good set of human eyes watching the forest for wildfire can be an effective and cheap fire safety measure.