Firefighters get wildfire advice from world experts

Firefighters get wildfire advice from world experts

Training and equipment help keep forests safe
03 October 2016

Hampshire firefighters are developing innovative approaches to tackling wildfires by talking to some of the world’s top experts.

Crews have just returned from a visit to Oregon, in the US, where they have shadowed crews, shared skills and attended wildfires.

The group of three, Lacey Plumbley, Simon Forster and Paul Robson, got the chance to work with highly specialised forestry workers and firefighters who only deal with wild fires.

Among the approaches that the team want to bring back include progressive hose laying that sees firefighters taking extra lengths of hose from a backpack device.

The team also said they were impressed with the community engagement particularly in areas which are likely to be affected by a wildfire and plan to build on the work already being done in Hampshire.

Rushmoor Station Manager Robson said:

“These trips are incredibly valuable and you take away so many ideas and skills.

“These firefighters are used to dealing with wildfires and some of the highly skilled forestry workers just deal with them.

“We were very impressed with collaboration work and the way they worked with people who lived in areas that were most vulnerable.”

A new wildfire vehicle has just been rolled out in Rushmoor with increased water-carrying capabilities and more manoeuvrability.

This was Hampshire firefighters’ second visit to Oregon and the trip is expected to become an annual event.

The first team to visit helped battle a 75,000-acre wildfire – the largest burning in the country at the time.

Station Manager David Hodge: 

“We aim to be the best. You can’t do that by staying with your borders.

“You have to find out where the experts in each field are and see how they do things.

“Their approach to wildfires is that you can’t prevent all of them so you have to prepare for them – the focus is on resilience.

“The value of this hands-on experience and the new skills you learn cannot be replicated by reading a manual.”

Hampshire firefighters in Oregon
Hampshire firefighters in Oregon