WILDFIRE specialists from across the world joined Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service for a number of workshops last week.
The week-long event was part of the European Forest Fire Networks Project (EUFOFINET), a European funded two-year project, which aims to cover five key themes relating to wildfire through a series of seven workshops.
The Northumberland workshop focused on good practice in fighting and suppressing wildfires.
Countries represented at the event included Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Slovak Republic, Portugal, the Netherlands and the USA. The 50 delegates who took part included fire officers, wildfire specialists, forestry officials, regional government officers and academics.
As part of the programme, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service led two field demonstrations.
Last Wednesday, a live fire exercise took place on a section of New Moor, near Longframlington, to demonstrate the use of controlled fire to fight wildfires.
The following day, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service ran an exercise near Linhope to demonstrate the use of a high-volume pump unit and a mobile command unit during a wildfire.
A representative from Linhope Estate discussed the management of heather moorland for grouse and the recent construction of a fire pond on the estate. Two volunteer mountain rescue teams also demonstrated the specialist communication systems that they bring to wildfire incidents to help the fire service.
During the workshop, officers from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service discussed a number of suppression tools and techniques that have been developed in the county.
One of these is the innovative Northumberland wildfire prediction system (WPS).
WPS is an important management and health and safety tool, which allows both firefighters and fire officers to predict likely behaviour and spread of a wildfire.
Fire officers also discussed other health and safety systems, many developed in the county based on international best practice and now being adopted by other fire and rescue services around the UK.
The workshop was the penultimate in a series of seven running across Europe as part of the EUFOFINET project.
Alex Bennett, chief fire officer for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This event, which has focused on good practice in fighting and suppressing wildfires, has been extremely useful. Working with international partners, this week and throughout the EUFOFINET project, has allowed us to review our practices, hone our skills and share expertise to ensure that we are equipped and trained to tackle wildfires in the best possible way in Northumberland. We have enjoyed hosting the events and welcoming our international partners to Northumberland. We will now be sharing what we’ve learned with fire services across the UK.”