Plot: Firefighters burning in a life-size exercise

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Near Bégoux, on the GR36 track, the forest caught fire on Friday evening. arson? The firefighters themselves. There are no real flames, but a joint exercise was organized between the life-size sections. An important exercise with the approach of summer. Reporting is at the heart of the action.

“Teams know absolutely nothing about the evening’s course, they just put it in real condition,” explains Lt. Col. Virgil Moreau, who was the organizer of this life-size workout on Friday. At the request of Lotte Prefecture, the goal was to prepare the firefighters for the summer season, which promises to be hot, by training for wildfires. These disasters require specific maneuvers that need to be reviewed regularly. These exercises are usually performed once a year.

It’s 4:00 p.m., and the final preparations are underway. Actually starting a fire is out of the question. So the barrels were placed in the middle of the forest, where the fuel would burn slightly to symbolize real flames. If the organization is accurate (a well-designed scenario, hours of thinking about plans and maps), it is impossible to predict the end of the exercise. “It all depends on the decisions of the Commander of Rescue Operations, Anne-Sophie Legon. We will keep our fire alive according to her actions, and there is no room for error,” said Lt. Col. Moreau.

Reinforcements in standby mode

The Lot’s various barracks were filled in – as were some firefighters from SDIS 82 (Tarn-et-Garonne). They are grouped into three GIFF (Forest Fire Intervention Group), a group that always consists of four trucks and a car with the group leader, ie about 18 people.

One of the GIFF 3 component trucks.
DDM Aouregan Texier

Around 7:10 p.m., the dummy call went to Codis Cadurcien. Three hikers were walking on the GR36 near Peugeot when smoke broke out. Someone disappeared. A few hours ago, Lieutenant Colonel Moreau said: “It’s a distraction. It will allow us to see the cooperation of the various police services, who have agreed to participate in this giant escape game!”

The first set is sent immediately. GIFF 3 firefighters are waiting, near the logistics base, to be called in for reinforcement. They are mostly volunteers from Cazal, Lalbenque, and Puy-l’Évêque. For them, waiting does not mean doing nothing. On the orders of the group leader Jean-Philippe Oberdorf, they are already trying to plan the route and check the weather, in particular to counter the winds.

The leader of the group, Jean-Philippe Oberdorf, prepares the way for his devices to reach the scene of the fire.

The leader of the group, Jean-Philippe Oberdorf, prepares the way for his devices to reach the scene of the fire.
DDM Aouregan Texier

complex maneuvers

It seems like a long wait in sweltering heat. An hour later, the fire engulfed nearly ten hectares, and its spread was rapid. Reinforcement is required. GIFF 3 is on its way. On the road, the displacement is calculated. The group leader directs all his devices by radio. It’s always the heaviest truck with the most powerful pump that shows the rear. But once he has access to genetic resources, he is the one who takes the lead. “It’s less manageable, once it’s stopped, it doesn’t move anymore,” explains Jean-Philippe Oberdorf. If this machine passes, so do the others.

Big machines had a hard time passing the GR36.

Big machines had a hard time passing the GR36.
DDM Aouregan Texier

On site, the group leader is the one who gets out of the car first. Go in the poll. “We stay in the trucks, the windows closed, until we receive the order to go out,” explains one of the firefighters.

The leader of the group gathers part of his forces to give them explanations.

The leader of the group gathers part of his forces to give them explanations.
DDM Aouregan Texier

Everyone should equip themselves with a balaclava, an F2 helmet and a special jacket to protect themselves. GIFF 3 is on the right side of the shot. They will attack from the front. But to get there, you have to climb. Equipped with tubes on their backs, weighing about 30 kilograms, they climb the mountain. A little technique for two women volunteers: making a tortoise and climbing on all fours, holding on to the branches in the hope that it will not give birth.

Firefighters must climb to reach the top of the device.

Firefighters must climb to reach the top of the device.
DDM Aouregan Texier

Two firefighters remained below, at the foot of the vehicles. They are responsible for the water supply from the pipes. The largest truck has a capacity of about 4000 liters and pushes water to the top of the device. The second is used to supply the first if necessary. Water resources are one of the biggest concerns during wildfires. In the city, trucks can be connected to the water supply. Impossible among the trees. “If there’s a shortage, the trucks shuttle. We also try to play on the flows,” explains one manager.

successful operation

After nearly two hours of working out, everyone packs their bags for the night. One firefighter concludes that his features are tired: “It was a good maneuver.” successful operation. The firefighters draw some positive points from this, such as very quick deployment of resources and good response from teams, but also some areas that need improvement. In fact, the command post, located at Mont-Saint-Cyr, was too far away to intervene.

Water is directed through this tube.

Water is directed through this tube.
DDM Aouregan Texier

After the effort, rest. A meal was organized at Mont Saint-Cyr to congratulate all the participants in this life-size exercise. Next training on June 24, in Rocamadour, on a red plan (save many victims) in anticipation of the Tour de France.

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