South Wales Fire and Rescue Service leads the way in accredited wildfire training

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South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) has become the first fire and rescue service to offer accredited training for wildfire response tactics, working closely with SFJ Awards.

This initiative follows the Service’s experience in dealing with over 2,000 wildfires from March 2022 to August 2023.

Bridging the training gap: collaboration with experts

The Operational Development Team, with SFJ Awards and wildfire specialist, Group Manager Craig Hope, constructed bespoke qualifications.

These qualifications cater to roles ranging from Wildfire Operators to Wildfire Planners (tactical managers).

Priority was given to training on equipment like the brush cutter, I-cutter, and leaf blower, ensuring all staff possess the vital tools and knowledge to effectively and safely handle wildfires.

Station Manager for Operational Development, Luke Phillips, shared: “Wildfires are becoming increasingly common and difficult to control, threatening communities, ecosystems, and wildlife.

“To stay updated, our Operational Development team has proactively created and launched specialised wildfire training, in sync with our current wildfire leads, instructors, and assessors.”

Past collaboration brings present success

SFJ Awards have previously partnered with SWFRS to deliver qualifications such as the Level 3 Diploma for both On-Call and Wholetime Duty System Firefighter recruits, and several instructor qualifications.

This established relationship enabled the design of qualifications that precisely address the challenges of wildfire responses.

Group Manager for Training and Development, Craig Hope, stated: “South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has consistently trained teams on managing wildfires.

“Given the evolving fire seasons and behaviour, we chose to refresh our training content, collaborating with SFJ Awards to achieve accreditation.

“This endorses the quality of our training and underscores our ongoing commitment to learners and the public.”

The new qualifications guarantee role-specific training.

This tailored approach ensures a united and coordinated response during wildfire emergencies.

Paving the path for wildfire response training

Notably, SWFRS is the pioneering UK fire and rescue service to introduce these crucial qualifications.

Numerous other services are taking inspiration, with SFJ Awards considering a national qualification and potentially crafting a course aligning with international standards.

Kathryn Broadbent, Head of Customer and Commercial Engagement at SFJ Awards, commented: “Recent wildfire incidents highlight the significant threat they present.

“Developing specialised wildfire training equips more firefighters with essential skills to combat wildfires, reducing their risk to communities.

“SFJ Awards is honoured to back South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s groundbreaking efforts, which will be instrumental in enhancing skills across the UK’s fire and rescue services.”

IFSJ Comment

The proactive measures taken by SWFRS, in partnership with SFJ Awards, signal a transformative shift in how wildfires are tackled in the UK and potentially globally.

As wildfires become more frequent and intense, upskilling our firefighters is paramount.

The tailored training, crafted in collaboration with experts, ensures that our fire and rescue services are equipped with the latest techniques and knowledge.

This initiative not only safeguards our communities and natural habitats but also stands as a beacon for other fire and rescue services worldwide, illustrating the importance of continuous learning and adaptation in the face of evolving challenges.

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