June 14-17, 2022 — AFoCO and the Forest Aviation Headquarters (FAH) of the Republic of Korea jointly organized the “Onsite Training on Drone Operation and Forest Fire Suppression” for the 1st batch of the 2022 AFoCO Fellowship Officials as part of a partnership that sees the two organizations pursue activities aimed at promoting forest fire management in Asia. The training was held from 14 to 17 June 2022 at Forest Aviation Headquarters (FAH) in Wonju-si, Gangwon province of the Republic of Korea. 5 Fellowship Officials from Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Timor-Leste from the 1st batch of the 2022 AFoCO Fellowship Program participated in the training.
The Fellowship Officials were warmly welcomed by Mr. Ko Kiyeon, FAH Director-General, and the officials of the FAH. During the training, theoretical lectures and hands-on practices were conducted by professional instructors from the drone operation team and disaster response team of the FAH to understand 1) unmanned aerial vehicles (drone) and basic flight operations, 2) basic rappel practices, 3) methods of extinguishing forest fires in rocky areas using mountain equipment and 4) components of mechanized forest fire extinguishing equipment.
Here’s what our Fellowship Officials have to say about the training:
“The training was very informative and refreshing for me despite the time limitation. The trainers were very considerate and patient. The Headquarters boasts state-of-the-art infrastructure and training facilities at the Forest Aviation headquarters are very extensive. Currently, my country lacks professionals trained in drone operation. Hence, I am looking forward to collaborating with the FAH to provided certified drone training to practitioners in Bhutan.”Sonam Tashi, Fellowship Official from Bhutan
“First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the Korea Forest Aviation Headquarters team for the warm welcome. It is clear that the technologies and equipment used are very efficient and modern. I liked that an integrated approach to extinguishing fires is being used with the use of ground forces, aviation, and drones at night. I believe that in the near future drones will be widely used in the forest sector of our country. The Republic of Kazakhstan also has forest aviation, I think it would be very useful to exchange experiences between our countries. During the short time of the training, I learned a lot of new things for myself, the training was very useful for me.”Abuov Azamat, Fellowship Official from Kazakhstan
“It was a great program. The lectures are presented well and included both video and hands-on practices to ensure effective learning. I had a chance to fly drones, rappelling and forest fire extinguishing practices through demonstrations by professional instructors from FAH which was clearly translated by Ms. Cha Jiyea, Assistant Program Officer from AFoCO. The techniques applied at FAH are very modern and customized to effectively extinguish forest fires in ROK. The rappelling course was one of the most challenging experiences I have accomplished. I thought about learning to rappel but I am afraid of slipping and falling while rappelling. The instructors from this training helped me to overcome my fears and reach my first goal. The step-by-step instructions and demonstrations are helpful. The instructors are very professional, clear with the instructions, encouraging, and patient with us. I was able to go through all of the components of the training. I will share my experiences with my colleagues in Myanmar, especially about the forest firefighting teams. If I have a chance, I would propose the formation of forest firefighting teams and the application of drones to effectively and timely monitor and respond to forest fires in Myanmar with the support of the FAH. I strongly recommend this training to anyone who wants to experience first-hand the ROK’s efforts in protecting its forests with trained firefighting personnel and modern technologies.”Khin Nyein San, Fellowship Official from Myanmar
“Despite the limited time, we learned much through the training. All the instructor were very patient and knowlegdeable, and the practice sessions also enriched the trainign experience greatly. I gained basic knowledge on fire suppression methods and would like to initiate a similar training on a small scale when I return to Thailand. It would be great if the subsequent batches of Fellowship Officials could be given the opportunity to attend such training activities and not only learn how to operate a drone, but also to process drone images.”Kittayaporn Jaiarree, Fellowship Official from Thailand
“The training curriculum was very comprehensive and creatively planned. It was also a good opportunity for participants to exercise! Such training cannot be carried out in Timor-Leste because of the lack of adequate facilities and certified trainers. Training on drone operation and forest fire management will definitely benefit our kind of training for our technicians. I am ready to help with the implementation plan if my government requires such training.”Moniz Guilhermino, Fellowship Official from Timor-Leste
At the end of the training, Director-General Mr. Ko Kiyeon handed certificates of completion to all training participants. The Fellowship Officials expressed their gratitude to the officials and instructors from FAH.
Established in 1971, the FAH works to reduce the number of forest fire outbreaks and minimize forest fire damage through early suppression systems and cutting-edge fire prevention tehcnologies. The Headquarters possess 47 helicopters and its operations include preventing forest fires and forest pests and diseases, transporting mateirlas for the restoration and protection of public facilities, and providing rescue services.
Contributed by the 1st Batch of 2022 AFoCO Fellowship Officials — Abuov Azamat, Khin Nyein San, Kittayaporn Jaiarree, Moniz Guilhermino, and Sonam Tashi