TURKEY – An international center set up in the southern province of Antalya is offering comprehensive training for forest firefighters from around the world.
Run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the center, established in 2012, is teaching how to prevent forest fires, extinguish them and rehabilitate the burned areas. It serves to improve the vocational skills of hundreds of personnel working in forestry preservation. Since its inception, the center has trained 5,392 people, including 357 foreign personnel from 16 countries.
Sprawled across a wide area, the site includes a driving course for fire truck drivers, obstacle courses for firefighters, a pentathlon court, as well as simulators developed by Turkey. Vedat Dikici, head of the Directorate of Forestry in Antalya, says the center, with its environment simulating different terrains, provides a good opportunity for practical training. “We train our trainees for different conditions, be it climbing a mountain, jumping off a helicopter or how to drive to reach a rough terrain where a forest fire is burning,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday.
So far, trainees from Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, North Macedonia, Senegal and Niger have attended the training. Currently, the authorities are working with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for further international participation. “We recently had visitors from Europe and they admired it. Officials from European countries want to send trainees as well. We are currently holding discussions to realize it. In a few years, we hope that our certificates given to trainees completing our program will be internationally recognized,” Dikici said.
Turkey, which seeks to increase the number of its forests, also faces a heightened threat of forest fires, especially in the summer. In recent years, it modernized its crews responding to fires and improved training for firefighters.