Lessons Learned from the 2022 wildfire season in France
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Ranked second among the hottest summers observed in France since 1900, the summer of 2022 saw an operational episode of unprecedented duration and intensity.
Photos by Christophe Marchal
This document authored by the French National association of Firefighters is an analysis of what went well, what can be improved and how to strengthen French fire services for future wildfires.
In all defence zones, the fight against forest and natural or agricultural fires put the response of civil protection of the national community under tension to a point close to breaking: usually prompt to help European Union countries, France has requested and received their help to overcome fires of unusual extent and violence.
This tension highlighted the exceptional adaptability of the French civil protection model, but also its vulnerabilities in the face of the evolution of threats related to climate change and their change of scale.
Radical acceleration of preparedness needed
In the conclusion of the document, one of the main reflections is that the magnitude of the challenge posed by climate change and the predictable inclusion of extreme climate events in 2022 in normality require a radical acceleration of our country’s preparation for this transition.
Realized within a tight deadline, this feedback highlights the resilience of the French civil protection model, based on the combined intervention of the State and Regional authorities, on the complementary action between professional firefighters, volunteers, military and national means of the national Civil Protection, as well as on national and European solidarity. These fundamental principles have demonstrated their relevance.
Credits: : The National Federation of French Firefighters expresses its deep gratitude to Colonel (retired) Pierre SCHALLER (fire and rescue service of Bouches-du-Rhone), Commander David BRUNNER (fire and rescue service of Gironde) and Lieutenant-Colonel Aurélien MANENC (fire and rescue service of Hérault) for coordinating this feedback. It thanks the fire and rescue services, the departmental unions of firefighters and the various actors in the fight against fire (elected officials, “Forest Defence against Fire” committees…) who have contributed to feeding and enriching this report.”