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This paper describes several optimizations of MAC protocols that can be applied in order to satisfy the constraints that come from a real-life application. Forest fire monitoring requires very different latencies and data sizes, depending on whether it is reporting normal conditions, sending an alarm, or performing network management functions. We use MAC algorithms that extensively shut down the radio in order to save power. We show that by exploiting knowledge about the Link Quality Index and by effectively using the free time of the channel only when there is more data than usual to transmit, we manage to decrease latency and contention and increase bandwidth usage, while keeping power consumption very low.