Nortumberland Fire and Rescue Service in the UK has joined forces with firefighting agencies in Italy and Portugal to develop a two-year training project, the first of its kind in Europe, in a bid to improve the fire and rescue service response to wildfires.

The IGNIS project (Initiative for Global Management of big fires through Simulation), is being financed by the European Commission through the Civil Protection Financial Instrument. It 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.

IGNIS partners are Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), France’s National Training School for Firefighters (ENTENTE pour la forĂȘt MĂ©diterranĂ©enne); the Italian National Fire Corps (Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco) and the Portuguese National School for Firefighters (Escola Nacional de Bombeiros). They met for the first time in February at a new risk simulation centre in the south of France to develop the training packages, which are due to be officially launched in late 2017.

The 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 means that the same training can be provided across Europe, which will improve the response to wildfire incidents involving emergency response teams from multiple countries.

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 due to the risks involved, but this new training resource will provide our officers with the experience they need to confidently tackle large fires out in the open and keep our county safe.”