The Airborne Wildfire Intelligence System (AWIS) defines the state-of-the-art in remotely sensed wildfire intelligence. AWIS is a commercial, automated, intelligence service, delivering GIS integrated fire intelligence, classified interpretive and analysis layers, and higher level decision support products for wildfires in near real time via the Internet. The AWIS effort illustrates flexible and dynamic cooperation between industry and government to combine technology with field knowledge and experience into an effective, optimized end-user tool. In Alberta the Forest Protection Division of the department of Sustainable Resource Development uses AWIS for several applications: holdover and wildfire hotspot detection, fire front and burned area perimeter mapping, strategic and tactical support through 3D visualization, research into the effects of fire and its severity and to document burn patterns across the landscape. A discussion of all of the scientific themes behind the AWIS is outside the scope of this paper, however, the science of sub-element detection will be reviewed. An independent study has been conducted by the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC) to investigate the capability of a variety of thermal infrared remote sensing systems to detect small and subtle hotspots in an effort to identify the strengths and weaknesses thereof. As a result of this work, method suitability guidelines have been established to match appropriate infrared technology with a given wildfire management objective.