Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service host international virtual reality wildfire training.

The Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service hosted an international training exercise, incorporating virtual reality wildfire training using a simulation tool, involving partners from France, Italy and Portugal.


The Initiative for Global Management of big fires through Simulation (IGNIS) programme project is funded by the European Commission through DG ECHOs Civil Protection Financial Instrument and provides fire officers and incident commanders with a virtual reality setting to train real-life fire incident commanders on how to command and control large-scale and complex wildfire incidents.


The training tool allows incident commanders and fire officers to develop large-scale wildfire simulation exercises to create a realistic virtual reality environment, as close to real life conditions as possible, utilising local partner agencies and aerial resources provided by other European nations to effectively manage and suppress wildfires.


The purpose of the tool is to provide a virtual reality setting in which different parts of the command system work together, replicating management of a real-life wildfire, ensuring the command structures work seamlessly, ultimately keeping people safe.


This is the first event in the UK which uses a virtual reality simulation training tool to manage wildfires, and following the development of this tool, the training tool and packages can be used within partner countries and across Europe to train fire officers in wildfire management.


Paul Hedley, Chief Fire Officer at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are proud to have been involved in the development of this virtual reality training tool along with our international partners and to also be the lead service in the UK for tackling wildfires.


“Wildfires can have devastating effects and it is paramount that we know how to manage and suppress them effectively when they arise, which we are able to do through the use of this training tool which allows us to work with all areas of command and our international agencies to co-ordinate the effective management of a wildfire.”


John Riddle, Cabinet member for Planning, Housing and Resilience at Northumberland County Council said: “We are delighted to host this training event and welcome partners from across Europe to our facility at West Hartford, Cramlington, working together to set up various virtual reality wildfire training scenarios, combating the fire and preparing the fire and rescue service should a wildfire occur in Northumberland.”

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