AGIF increases pool of national experts
In the wake of the rural fires of 2017, the reports published by Independent Technical Committees I and II (ITC) identified the qualification of agents and the lack of knowledge applied to planning and operations as critical change points.
Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 157-A/2017, of 27 October 2017, and the subsequent creation of the Agency for Integrated Rural Fire Management (Decree-Law No. 12/2018, of 16 February 2018), established the creation of a pool of experts that, in the short term, would help address the shortcomings identified.
In the first year of the programme potential partner countries were identified (U.S., Spain, Chile, South Africa, Australia/New Zealand and Canada) and relations for technical cooperation were established, which were consolidated with the hosting of 20 experts.
In 2018, the exchange programme involved:
|Country of origin:||No. of experts||No. of days||No. of initiatives||No. of participants||No. of participating entities||No. of participants from said entities|
Table 1 – Summary chart of inbound flow
During the course of the year and as a result of the partnerships implemented, Portuguese personnel were given the opportunity to visit foreign entities:
|Country of origin:||No. of participants||No. of days||No. of participating entities|
Table 2 – Summary chart of outbound flow
The programme saw the participation of nearly 2,500 stakeholders and experts in 166 training initiatives that were held taking into account the need for broad geographical coverage, enabling the exchange of new methodologies and processes, and access to consolidated knowledge, through instructors and institutions, in presentations, manuals and mission reports.
The programme was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Embassies in Chile, U.S., Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Finland and by the Canadian, American, South African, Chilean and Finnish Embassies in Portugal, as well as the respective institutional partners CONAF, I, US Forest Service, CalFire, FFMG, Kishugu, MAPAMA and DGECHO (European Commission).
Of note is the European Union’s willingness to support efforts made by Portugal in the prevention and suppression of fires by implementing an experimental technical assistance module. Also of note are the partnerships established with and the financial support from the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), which enabled the hosting of two American experts, and that of Turismo de Portugal, enabling the implementation of a project involving foreign and hotel communities to help raise awareness among communities for the need to adopt self-protection measures.
Each mission resulted in a report, the recommendations of which were shared by the Portuguese entities. The observations of each host organisation (GNR, ANPC and IPMA) were also collated and included in the reports to help improve the programme in the coming years.
Fire science is applied the same way across the globe and challenges such as climate change are a global and pressing concern for most governments, which means solutions can also be shared and disseminated.
The exchange programme proved to be a key resource for the introduction of specialised knowledge in the various components of the system, with the inclusion of experts in the various disciplines of prevention and suppression, particularly in fire behaviour and suppression and logistics, in accordance with the priorities identified by the ITC.
AGIF’s management programme and the collaboration with SGIFR entities helped identify areas for improvement in the coordination and alignment of the programme with the future National Qualification and Training Programme for SGIFR Agents and the various approaches for teaching and training.
Based on the outcome of this experiment, training initiatives for Portuguese personnel were implemented in 2019, with visits to Spain and Chile and training initiatives led by international experts in Portugal.