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AFAN Workshop – Aix-en-Provence

Between April 19 and 22, experts from seven European countries participated in a very productive workshop, field exercises and final dissemination event in Aix-en-Provence, France. The activities took place in the frame of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (DG-ECHO) Knowledge Network project for the Advanced Fire Analyst Network(AFAN) and was hosted by the French Academy for Civil Protection VALABRE. The European Forest Institute (Alex and Lindon) are both registered in the AFAN network (see here for an interactive map). AFAN and WRK also supported the participation of the East Bavarian Technical University Regensburg, which is working closely with the Bavaria State Fire Academy Regensburg and the Bavarian Ministry of Interior to develop wildfire management capacity for the state of Bavaria, which has also enlisted the expertise of WKR.

Participants included:

  • European Forest Institute (Germany)

  • Pau Costa Foundation (Spain)

  • BOMBERS (GRAF unit) (Spain)

  • Sapeurs-Pompiers (SDIS and ENSOSP) (France)

  • Institute for Public Safety (NIPV)(Netherlands)

  • D.R.E.A.M Italia (Italy)

  • Södertörn Fire and Rescue Service (Sweden)

  • East Bavarian Technical University Regensburg (Germany)

  • Special Civil Protection Force (GAUF-FEPC) (Portugal)

  • South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (UK)

The event consisted of internal project meetings, a tour of VALABE facilities and curriculum, 1.5 days of workshop scenario exercises including a field visit accompanied by a local volunteer fire association. For the scenario exercises, teams were briefed and tasked with using various methods to estimate fire behavior and spread to suggest fire suppression strategies to the incident commander; fire analysis teams were mixed both internationally and with their peers from their home countries. On the second day, the scenarios were deployed on the field to mock an extreme wildfire event threating several towns. For this, teams reported to the mayor of one of the towns and were escorted through the surrounding mountains to collect real-world intel out in the field to better assess a fire containment strategy to protect the local towns.

The days were attended by the project Policy Officer from the European Commission as outcomes of AFAN were presented interactively and plans were discussed for capitalizing on the momentum gained for the further development of good practice standards for wildfire analysists in Europe, an increasingly valuable function as many countries cope with more unpredictable fires and need more specialized intelligence to inform safe operations. The final day consisted of a hybrid dissemination event with keynotes and panel discussions; Lindon was invited to give a keynote on the outputs of the Landscape Fire Thematic Working Group of the FIRE-IN project which he has chaired since 2017.


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