Simulation training to help tackle wildfires

8. Photo2Partners from across Europe are developing a training package that will improve the fire and rescue service response to wildfires.

The IGNIS project (Initiative for Global Management of big fires through Simulation), brings together the knowledge and experience of emergency service partners from France, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

The two-year project, financed by the European Commission through the Civil Protection Financial Instrument, will see the development of a simulation tool and training packages that can be used within the partner countries and across Europe to train fire officers in how to safely and effectively put out wildfires.

Partners will help to develop the simulation tool that will provide different training conditions to prepare officers for large fires. Jointly developing the training package will mean the same training can be provided across Europe, which will improve the response to wildfire incidents involving emergency response teams from multiple countries.

Alex Bennett, Chief Fire Officer, Northumberland County Council, said, “The IGNIS project is the first of its kind in Europe that brings together the expertise and technological abilities of emergency service partners from across Europe in the creation of an advanced training resource.

“Having this resource will mean that emergency response teams from across Europe, including NFRS can practice and improve their response in a safe way so that we are better prepared to protect communities in the event of a wildfire.”

The IGNIS partners, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), France’s National Training School for Fire Fighters (ENTENTE pour la forêt Méditerranéenne (EPLFM)); the Italian National Fire Corps (Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (CNVVF)) and the Portuguese National School for Fire Fighters (Escola Nacional de Bombeiros (ENB)), met for the first time during a meeting hosted by ENTENTE, in the South of France in February 2016 at a new risk simulation centre (called CESIR) to begin developing the training packages.

Dave Ledger, Chair of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Authority and Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, said, “In rural areas like Northumberland, wildfires are a serious potential risk. Providing training for large wildfires is near impossible because of the risks involved but this new training resource is going to provide our officers with the experience they need to be able to confidently tackle large fires out in the open and keep our county safe.”

The group will meet on at least six occasions over the coming two years to develop the simulation training, with the official launch of the training packages planned for late 2017.

At the end of the two-year project, a European consortium of partners and an online IGNIS Fire Simulation Resources Centre will be established. The consortium will continue to update the simulation training packages so that training remains relevant and available for emergency services for many years to come.