Wildland firefighter training in the Simien Mountains
Working on Fire International was commissioned by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), on behalf of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), to provide basic and advanced wildland firefighter training, equipment and materials to conservation staff in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. The training took place over a period of 6 days in February, based out of Gondar and Debark, in the north of Ethiopia.
The Simien Mountains are located in the 220 square kilometer Simien National Park, in Ethiopia’s highlands. The area is sometimes referred to as the “Roof of Africa” given that it forms the largest continuous area of elevation on the continent. The park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to some rare and endemic animals such as the Gelada baboon. The need for training was as a result of the catastrophic fires experienced in the area during 2019.
The training emphasis was on practical firefighting techniques and safety as well as Reduction and Readiness in order to reduce the longer term need for Response. The training culminated in a live fire exercise at almost 11,000 ft in the Simien Mountains. Wildland firefighting is a physically arduous exercise but working at that altitude makes it even more challenging.
“Our training is fundamentally based on three core principles: Fitness forms the foundation of any firefighter and Discipline is the cement needed to be able to work as a team, whilst Training provides the building blocks of skills transfer” said Working on Fire’s Trevor Wilson who lead the training.