Northumberland firefighters have joined partners from across Europe to develop a training package that will improve responses 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 four different European countries - 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.
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 last month at a new state-of-the-art risk-simulation centre to begin developing the training packages.
Northumberland's Chief Fire Officer, Alex Bennett, 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 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.
Dave Ledger, chairman 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."