In the current “Forest Fire Impact Study: Mid-term Executive Summaries” post, we present the National Reports on the “Mid-Term Impact Assessment of the Training Package During Fire Season” for the FFP project. L4Y Learning For Youth GmbH is the German coordinator. The BOSEV (Turkey), KMOP (Greece), SPEL (Portugal), OVAR-Forma (Portugal), Cesie (Italy), Growth-Coop (Spain), and Citizens in Power (Cyprus) are partners of the project.
Forest Fire Impact Study: Executive Summaries
The National Reports on the “Mid-Term Impact Assessment of the Training Package During Fire Season” presents the results of a study conducted during the 2023 fire season in each partner country – Portugal (SPEL and OVF), Cyprus (CIP), Germany (L4Y), Turkey (BOSEV), Greece (KMOP), Spain (Growth Coop) and Italy (CESIE). This assessment aims to evaluate the significance and effectiveness of a training program for enhancing community preparedness and resilience in forest fires. Three hundred fourteen participants across participating countries received the upscaled training, while 309 participated in the study. The study compares the results from a cohort of approximately 40 trainee and 40 non-trainee participants per partner with similar socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.
In light of these insights, the report provides targeted recommendations to reinforce community resilience in the face of wildfires. Our offers include targeted education initiatives, enhanced information campaigns, and collaborative partnerships to strengthen community resilience and preparedness against forest fires. What follows are the main conclusions in specific national contexts.
Forest Fire Impact Study: Portugal
In Portugal, the study involved 60 trained participants and 93 non-trainees from diverse communities affected by the fire season. The training sessions conducted by organisations like Ovar Forma and SPEL demonstrated a substantial positive impact on trainees’ confidence levels, knowledge, and readiness to deal with forest fires. Notable trends emerge from the comparison between trainees and non-trainees. Trainees consistently exhibited higher levels of preparedness, understanding of national legislation, and awareness of evacuation plans. This underscores the importance of expanding such training initiatives, particularly in vulnerable rural communities.
Trainees felt more positive about their communities’ readiness and resources for forest fires, unlike non-trainees who had reservations. Both groups understood the forest’s importance, preventive measures, and potential fire severity.
The report in Portugal emphasises the urgent need for improved coordination and resource allocation at local and regional levels. The study in Portugal also highlights the crucial role of ongoing data collection and dissemination on forest fire severity and risk assessment. Accurate and up-to-date information is essential for informed decision-making and prevention efforts. Maintaining a comprehensive database to monitor forest fire trends and risk factors is recommended. Continuous public awareness campaigns are also advised to educate residents about forest fire risks, prevention, and preparedness. This reflects a commendable level of engagement and commitment to addressing forest fire-related concerns in Portugal. The collaborative efforts among various entities enrich the impact study’s comprehensive approach to this critical issue. This aims for a more resilient and informed community in the face of forest fires.
Forest Fire Impact Study: Cyprus
The history of forest fires in Cyprus dates back decades, with natural and human-induced factors contributing to their occurrence. The results in Cyprus compare those from a cohort of 40 trainees and 40 non-trainee participants. The finding shows a positive impact on the trainees’ confidence, readiness, and preparedness after the training package of the project. This outcome underscores the efficacy of the project’s training sessions in enhancing individuals’ abilities to address fire-related situations effectively. However, trainees’ proactive stance and non-trainees’ concerns about educating the broader rural population about fire preparedness are still vital.
These recommendations advocate for diverse strategies. Firstly, launching community engagement campaigns encourages wider participation. Secondly, implementing supplementary, customised training and public education initiatives enhances preparedness. Lastly, providing psychological support and strategically establishing fire suppression points aim to reduce response times. By embracing these suggestions, communities can better equip themselves to navigate the challenges of wildfires and further fortify their capacity to respond effectively.
Forest Fire Impact Study: Germany
In this study, we engaged 40 trainee and 44 non-trainee local German citizens, gleaning key findings and insights. The results show the project’s training positively impacted trainees’ self-confidence, readiness, and preparedness compared to non-trainees. These individuals displayed higher confidence levels in using firefighting tools, understanding fire safety zones, and interpreting emergency plans. However, while trainees benefited significantly from training sessions, the study identified knowledge gaps. These gaps, including categorizing forest fires by risk and understanding the severity of fires, need targeted educational initiatives.
Furthermore, our findings indicated that non-trainee participants still possessed a baseline level of awareness. This emphasizes the importance of extending training opportunities to a broader audience for a more consistent community level of knowledge and preparedness. The German study highlighted room for improvement, especially in closing knowledge gaps and enhancing community engagement inclusivity.
Forest Fire Impact Study: Turkey
In the case of Turkey, we share key findings and insights from a broad study involving 52 trainee participants and 50 non-trainee participants. The results show that education about wildfires should be continuous. In rural areas, despite some fire-prepared individuals, training remains essential. Although all emphasised the importance of preparation for wildfires and fire training drills, many respondents did not feel fully prepared and safe. There is no significant difference between trained and non-trained participants in the process of fire preparations. The main difference was observed in the effectiveness of the practices made, self-confidence and the use of new firefighting methods. During training, participants expressed concerns for the safety of older individuals, infants, disabled people, and helpless animals.
Almost all participants in the Turkeys study emphasised the importance of cooperation with local authorities and collective action rather than individual efforts in case of fire. The training most effectively covered fire causes, escape plans, firefighting techniques for various fire types, and animal protection. Among the participants who did not receive training, the lack of knowledge and confidence in these subjects is remarkable. Initially, the general findings highlight the practical nature of the activity, emphasizing the necessity of repeating fire training at specified intervals. Moreover, fostering cooperation with local authorities is deemed essential before, during, and after a fire event, ensuring a holistic approach to training that encompasses both theoretical and practical elements. Subsequently, implementing necessary measures to safeguard vulnerable individuals and animals is imperative, as fires cause mass damage rather than isolated incidents. Finally, accurately identifying situations demanding professional firefighting intervention is crucial for maintaining safety.
Forest Fires in Greece area recurring phenomenon affecting both urban and rural areas nationwide. This was confirmed by the severe fires in Summer 2023, hitting places like Attica, Loutraki, Rhodes, Corfu, Magnesia, Fthiotida, Evros, among others. The study analyses the impact of Forest Fire Training by comparing the results from 40 trainee and 42 non-trainee participants with similar socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds. The analysis revealed limited training impact on participants’ preparedness and confidence. Both trainees and non-trainees showed similar knowledge and action ability during a forest fire.
Their level of preparedness and confidence is moderate, and their mean score in all five factors (survival rate of community, severity of fires, survival rate of animals, material loss, level of confidence) included in the survey ranges around six on a scale of 1-10. This outcome is explained by the severity of forest fires in Greece that cause irrevocable damage to human life, animals, material goods and the environment. At the same time, the state mechanism seems unprepared to prevent and intervene satisfyingly. Distrust in state strategies highlights the need for individual and community-level training to boost confidence and preparedness.
The questionnaires and the focus groups carried out in the project’s result three show that in Spain, there is a significant lack of training for the population in self-protection in the event of forest fires or prevention. Most respondents have basic knowledge but feel their communities are unprepared for forest fires’ challenges, lacking information on necessary measures. This rationale is present in 72.5% of trained respondents and 65% of non-trained participants. High environmental awareness is evident as both groups are well-versed in their surrounding environment, its value, and forest fire issues.
Both groups recognize the importance of preventive waste management, forest cleaning, and road maintenance. The most significant issue participants encounter arises during a fire emergency due to misleading instincts. They possess limited expertise in interpreting plans or using firefighting equipment. All these data are directly linked to the groups that have received training (the ones that obtain better data) and those that have not (in which the deficiencies are more accentuated). However, the latter also has a high environmental awareness and knowledge regarding forest fire prevention.
The Italian National Report by CESIE, which conducted the activities and prepared this report, works in Sicily (Italy). In this land, every summer, forest fires are widespread, mighty, hazardous and very destructive. This report includes the study conducted with 37 trainee and 36 non-trainee participants. The participants’ backgrounds range from being unemployed to being students, civic workers, and professionals in several fields. The objective of this report is to compare the two groups and assess the positive impact of even simplistic and short training sessions in the field of fires and forest fires and their effects on the public.
The results clearly show that trainees feel much more prepared, ready, and knowledgeable about forest fires, prevention, and intervention. These findings showcase the Forest Fire Protection initiatives’ efficacy, highlighting rural communities’ training gaps and training desires.
To see the results of “Mid-Term Impact Assessment of the Training Package During Fire Season”, please read the Final Report.