From Fellowships to Firefighters: Transformative forest fire management training at the Forest Aviation Headquarters

June 19-21, 2023 — The Forest Aviation Headquarters (FAH) of the Republic of Korea organized a three-day training on Advanced Forest Fire Management for the fellowship officials of the 2023 AFoCO Fellowship Program starting from 19 June to 21 June 2023. The training is part of the many collaborative programs agreed upon between AFoCO and FAH to pursue cooperation on Forest Related Disaster Response and Preparedness.

The training was held at the FAH in Wonju City, Gangwon province, of the Republic of Korea. Four fellowship officials from Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and Indonesia participated in the training. The FAH is one of the seven affiliate organizations under the Korea Forest Service which works towards protecting the public and national properties from various natural disasters and accidents, including wildfire, forest diseases and pests, natural disasters, and distress.

FAH Director General Mr. Ko Ki-Yeon in his welcome remarks said that the organization is glad to organize such training for the officials of the AFoCO Member countries and he hopes that the training will help in building the capacities of the officials to manage forest fire back in their countries. He also highlighted the crucial role that FAH plays in forest fire prevention and suppression and further added that with their expertise in the use of helicopters as cutting-edge tools for managing forest fire and a team of well-trained and dedicated staff, the FAH consistently strives to protect people’s lives and forest from disaster.

The three-day training included both theoretical and practical sessions. The theoretical session included lectures on Introduction to Forest Fire which included topics like Principles of Forest Fire, Causes of Forest fire, and Forest Fire types, followed by the comprehensive session on the roles and strategic initiatives of Forest Aviation Headquarters in addressing forest fire, forest insect pest and diseases, forest industry support and saving lives in the mountain. The practical session included hands-on training in forest fire suppression and fire line preparation. The trainers also highlighted the importance of teamwork while controlling the forest fire.

Photo: Fire suppression exercise and fire line preparation

Apart from the forest fires management training, the fellowship officials also got the opportunity to learn rappelling and visit the helicopter garage to look at the different helicopters the FAH uses for their operations while addressing forest-related disasters

Photo: Fellowship officials with Aerial Fire Fighters Team of FAH and visit to the helicopter garage

The training successfully came to an end and the fellowship officials were presented with a completion certificate. The fellowship officials expressed their gratitude to the FAH, to the wonderful trainers for the very comprehensive training

(Left to Right) Mr. Park Dongseon from FAH, Ms. Cha Jiyea from AFoCO Secretariat, Mr. Niyaz Zholbarys from Kazakhstan, Ms. Ike Mediawati from Indonesia, Ms. Tshering Zam from Bhutan, Mr. Zaw Min Aye from Myanmar, Mr. Ko Ki-Yeon from FAH

Gaining Perspective: Fellowship Officials share their thoughts on Forest Fire Management Training

“I really enjoyed the hands-on exercises and simulation that allowed us to apply the concepts we learned in a realistic setting. It helped build confidence in our abilities to assess fire risks and coordinate firefighting efforts. I was really impressed to learn about the team collaboration among the fire fighters at FAH. I believe team work is crucial during the actual fire events as it enables fire fighters to work together seamlessly, making fire fighting operations more efficient and effective. I would like to thank the FAH for giving us the opportunity to learn rappelling. It was truly remarkable and left an left an indelible mark on my life. “

Tshering Zam, Fellowship Official from Bhutan

“The training was fantastic. I am impressed with the smart management system of the Forest Fire in Korea. I really liked how the Forest Aviation Headquarters have their own channel on Youtube. I hope they keep their channels updated with their latest efforts in addressing forest fire in Korea. “

Ike Mediawati, Fellowship Official from Indonesia

“The training was quite interesting and also exciting. It was just a good mix of lectures and field activities. We had hands-on experience in making fire lines and rappelling. Although time was very limited, we also had the opportunity to visit the helicopter maintenance facility. We learnt that apart from forest fire activities, the staff at the Forest Aviation Headquarters also indulge into various sports to keep themselves fit and prepared for the next fire season.”

Zaw Min Aye, Fellowship Official from Myanmar

“Although the duration of the training was very short, I am happy that I learned a lot about the roles of the Forest Aviation Headquarters in managing forest fire in Korea. I hope that the experience that I gained from the training will help me to address forest fire back in my country. “

Niyaz Zholbarys, Fellowship Official from Kazakhstan

Contributed by Ms. Tshering Zam, 2023 Fellowship Official from Bhutan

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