Korea seeks more roles in wild-land fire control

Korea seeks more roles in wild-land fire control

29 September 2015

published by www.koreaherald.com

South Korea– The Korea Forest Service and Gangwon Province will jointly host the sixth International Wildland Fire Conference at Pyeongchang from Oct. 12 to 16.

The international conference was established when old ways of fire prevention became insufficient to deal with the frequent and intense fires happening worldwide due to climate change, and awareness increased on the need to exchange academic information through international assistance.

“It is the first time that this conference is held in Asia, and it will be an occasion where participants look at past and present wild-land fire cases, the history of wild-land fire management and discuss future management methods,” KFS Minister Shin Won-sop said.

Around 2,000 people from 60 countries have registered to attend, including Magareta Wahlmstrom, special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Registration and assignments for keynote speakers, panel sessions and exhibition booths have also been completed.

The conference will see a scientific committee of fire academics from various institutions discussing topics on wild-land fires, as well as a simulated field demonstration of wild-land fire suppression on Oct. 14.

There will also be a field study tour of restoration sites across Gangwon Province, introducing the process and technology of restoring areas that have suffered major fire damage.

Additionally, there will be exhibition booths by Korean and international businesses regarding wild-land fires, promotional programs introducing Korean wild-land fire policies, and an opportunity for business networking among attending institutions. Shin said the conference would also have a number of experience programs for ordinary conference attendees.

The agency has been holding rehearsals for the conference and has completed participant registration, and is preparing transportation and lodging.

Shin said he hoped to expand Korea’s role in the international wild-land fire network and foster solidarity with various fire networks, as well as the UNISDR and the Global Wildland Fire Network.

“As this is the first conference held in Asia, Korea should establish itself as the center of the wild-land fire network in Asia and contribute to developing fire management in developing countries through training programs,” Shin said.

He hoped that the conference would provide a place for wild-land fire-related businesses, research institutions and experts to communicate with the attendees and introduce innovative technology and methods.

“The Korea Forest Service promotional hall could also provide a platform in introducing and exporting Korea’s policy on wild-land fires and its high-tech fire prevention system and technology,” he added.

Shin said that South Korea had an advantage in managing wild-land fires as they saw the importance of crisis management after several major fires in the past 20 years.

“The wild-land fires that occurred along the eastern coast were mostly natural disasters based on climate and geographical features, but there was also an inadequate wild-land fire prevention system to prevent it,” he said.

As a result, the Korea Forest Service has collaborated with local governments and systematically invested in preventing fires by expanding provision of fire extinguishing materials, training and fire prevention education personnel and instilling a systematic approach at local wild-land fire relief centers.

Shin said that the Korean wild-land fire management system has received a positive international reception, and that he expected foreign countries would benchmark or import the system.

“Currently, the wild-land fire control system has around 20,000 rangers across the country who are able to send commands remotely through a location-based reporting system, which allows them to locate the exact position of a fire on the map and alert the Korea Forest Service and local authorities in real time,” he said.

Shin urged the public, including specialists on wild-land fire, natural disasters, the environment, health and climate to participate in the conference.

“Even now, people and wildlife around the world are losing their homes from wild-land fires,” he said. “We all have a responsibility to find a way for all life forms on earth to coexist in such an environment.”

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