Fire service is helping to save lives in Europe

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Firefighters in Northumberland are playing a key role in a Europe-wide project aimed at saving lives during natural disasters.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is one of six agencies in the European Union that will deliver a two-year scheme to create an online resource.

Between 1974 and 1978 there were 43 recorded natural disasters in Europe, but for the period 1999 to 2003 there were 288. Agencies working on monitoring climate change believe that, in the future, these numbers could increase as weather and temperatures become more extreme.

This innovative project is called ‘e-Learning for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural Disasters’, and, along with NFRS, involves partners from Denmark, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania and Spain.

Alex Bennett, chief fire officer with NFRS, said: “The impact of natural disasters shouldn’t be underestimated and can include not only loss of life, but also long-term psychological distress, economic loss and damage to property, infrastructure and the natural environment.

“We’ve seen first-hand the damage floods and storms can have on our communities and we’re pleased to be able to play our part by sharing our knowledge and experience to a wider audience.”

Once finalised, the modules will be made available in six European languages, publicised across the continent.

The project is co-funded by the European Commission within the framework of the Erasmus + Programme.