South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and SFJ Awards pioneer accredited Wildfire training

In conjunction with SFJ Awards, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) have become the first fire and rescue service in the UK to introduce accredited training for Wildfire response tactics.

With the Service attending over 2,000 wildfires between March 2022 and August 2023, SWFRS identified the need for recognised qualifications to provide an effective wildfire response.

The Operational Development Team collaborated with the team at SFJ Awards and Wildfire expert Group Manager, Craig Hope, to develop accredited qualifications tailored to various roles, from Wildfire Operators to Wildfire Planners (tactical managers). The team prioritised providing essential training on specialised equipment, such as the Brush cutter, I-cutter, and leaf blower, to ensure that all operational staff are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to combat wildfires with utmost efficiency and safety.

SWFRS’ Station Manager for Operational Development, Luke Phillips, said:

“Wildfires are becoming increasingly prevalent and challenging to manage, posing substantial risks to communities, ecosystems, and wildlife. As a result, it is vital for the service to stay ahead of the curve by ensuring our personnel are well-versed in the unique complexities of wildfire suppression. Recognising this pressing need, the Operational Development team, in conjunction with our current Wildfire leads, instructors and assessors across the service have taken proactive steps to create and deliver specialised wildfire training.”

SFJ Awards have previously delivered a number of qualifications to the employees of SWFRS, such as the Level 3 Diploma for both On-Call and Wholetime Duty System Firefighter recruits, along with a number of instructor qualifications specific to Bariatric, RTC and BA. Through this partnership, SWFRS has been able to design and implement accredited qualifications tailored to the specific demands of wildfire response.

SWFRS’ Group Manager for Training and Development, Craig Hope, said:

“South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has been training crews and tactical officers on how to manage wildfires for many years. As the fire seasons and fire behaviour is changing, it was decided to update the training materials. This was a good opportunity to work with SFJ Awards to get the suite of wildfire courses accredited. This accreditation gives recognition for the quality and credibility of training, and shows our long-term commitment to learners and communities.”

The development of qualifications ensures that everyone at SWFRS receives appropriate training tailored to their respective roles. This approach fosters a more cohesive and coordinated response, where everyone understands their responsibilities and can work seamlessly together during wildfire incidents.

SWFRS is the first fire and rescue service in the UK to implement these risk-critical qualifications, and several other fire and rescue services are following suit. SFJ Awards are looking to create a nationally recognised qualification, as well as the potential for designing a course to meet international standards, which can be utilised around the world.

Kathryn Broadbent, Head of Customer and Commercial Engagement at SFJ Awards, comments:

“A series of wildfire incidents in recent years provides a stark reminder of the danger that they pose to lives, livelihoods, and the natural environment.

“The development of specialist wildfire training will help to equip more and more firefighters with the fire suppression skills needed to tackle wildfires and minimise their threat to our communities.

“SFJ Awards is proud to support South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s pioneering work in this area, which will provide a platform to upskilling fire and rescue services across the UK.”

About SFJ Awards

SFJ Awards is a nationally recognised and regulated Awarding Organisation, Custom Certification Services provider, and an approved apprenticeship End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). Our industry-leading team work to add value and impact to the development of workforce skills, flexibility, and jobs. SFJ Awards support employers and training providers to deliver world-class learning and development solutions across key public sector organisations including Policing, Fire and Rescue Services, Security, Healthcare, and more.

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