International training exercise in Finland for scooping aircraft
In order to maintain and develop the ability to operate across borders within the EU, it is important to carry out regular exercises. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has therefore participated in a forest fire exercise in Finland from 2 to 5 May with two scooping aircraft, which are part of the rescEU cooperation agreement.
Finland arranges a forest fire exercise annually. This year, Sweden participated by sending two scooping aircraft. The aircraft are stationed in Sweden and are part of the rescEU cooperation. This means that they can be used for fires in other EU countries as needed.
“This was an excellent opportunity for us to practice international support operations. We covered the whole chain from request to execution”, says Petronella Norell, head of the National Operations and Civil Protection Section at MSB.
“Cooperation between Finland and Sweden and well-functioning cooperation structures are important considering the upcoming forest fire season. It is essential that we develop the European Union’s joint capacity so that we can better prepare for the challenges of climate change together”, says Kimmo Kohvakka, Senior Officer at the Department for Rescue Services.
Sweden’s crisis preparedness is part of the EU’s preparedness, just as the EU’s preparedness is part of our own. In 2021, Sweden responded to a request from the EU for help in extinguishing the major forest fires that ravaged Greece during the summer. Two aircraft from Sweden participated for a full week in the operation, which involved a total of 11 Member States.
Among other things, the exercise has helped the countries better understand each other’s systems and the conditions for cooperation in the event of forest fires. The exercise has also led to the development of communication techniques and methods for effective and safe cooperation at the scene of an incident.
In connection with the exercise, a Nordic-Baltic meeting was held to discuss each country’s preparations for the forest fire season. Strengths, weaknesses and good practice examples were discussed, both in terms of prevention and operational capacity. The European Commission representative at the meeting said that the current forecast indicates that there could be a large number of forest fires in Europe during the coming season.
Through MSB, Sweden contributes to rescEU by making scooping aircraft available to fight forest fires. We are also responsible for one of rescEU’s medical stockpile for healthcare equipment and have been tasked with developing a resource to provide temporary emergency accommodation for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.