International wildfire project reaches the end of the road

AN ambitious international wildfire project involving Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is nearing successful completion.

The European Forest Fire Networks (EUFOFINET) scheme launched in October 2010 to improve and enhance regional and local approaches to wildfire prevention and suppression through European co-operation, collaboration and exchange of good practice.

Following eight workshops in various locations, including one in Northumberland that involved field demonstrations with controlled fires, an international conference was held in Brussels, attended by NFRS and wildfire specialists from 12 other countries.

During the event, the partners unveiled some of the key pieces of work carried out as part of the project. These included presentations about the technical workshops, action plans for each region represented and a glossary of terms.

The EUFOFINET organisations decided early in the process to publish a reference guide and the result is an impressive English language glossary of more than 800 terms and associated definitions arranged within 13 thematic chapters.

NFRS Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “This glossary is a very important piece of work and all partners are now working to implement the glossary within their own countries and promote its use across Europe.

“Within the UK, the service has begun to promote the adoption of the glossary locally and nationally. We have already worked with the Scottish Government to harmonise and integrate the glossary within the new National Operational Guidance Manual for Wildfire Suppression.”

He added: “Our involvement in the project has been extremely rewarding. Working with international partners during the last two years 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.”

One of the tools used by the service is the innovative Northumberland Wildfire Prediction System, which allows both firefighters and fire officers to predict likely behaviour and spread of a wildfire.