`

Virtual future for tackling wildfires

The IGNIS simulation tool for tackling wildfires.
The IGNIS simulation tool for tackling wildfires.

Officers from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service attended the final conference in France as part of a Europe-wide wildfire training project.

The conference marked the conclusion of the IGNIS (Initiative for Global Management of big fires through Simulation) project, co-financed by the European Commission, a two-year project involving four European partners who designed and developed a wildfire simulation tool to train fire officers in the command and control of large and destructive wildfires.

The simulation tool consists of a network of computers that run advanced gaming-style software which present officers with a realistic virtual environment that is as close to real-life conditions as possible.

The simulation tool shows commanders what they would see at a wildfire incident and they need to use knowledge, skills and experience to gather and process information to make decisions on how to safely and effectively command the incident.

Paul Hedley, Northumberland’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “The IGNIS project has been an extremely ambitious project and some major advances have been made over a relatively short period of time.

“Working with partners across Europe has allowed us to develop a fantastic training tool that allows officers to train in wildfire management in a realistic, real-time environment.

“Following the success of the development of IGNIS, the partners were also discussing further exchanges and projects to help continue the valuable exchange of knowledge and experience following that which has taken place during the last two years.”

Coun John Riddle, cabinet member with responsibility for the fire and rescue service, said: “Having the ability to train for wildfire incidents is invaluable to our fire and rescue service especially as a rural fire service where wildfires are a potential risk.

“I am very proud of the work carried out by NFRS within this project and we can use this experience and knowledge to take us forward and continue to work together with colleagues across Europe.”