The Fire 5 project
In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam introduced the concept of “closer cooperation”, a tool that permits even a limited number of Member States to propose initiatives for developing and empowering some specific activity sectors.
In February 2006, the Civil Protection Authorities in Italy, France, Portugal and Spain, discussed the opportunity to plan and put in place shared intervention in the event of natural calamities and emergencies, especially in the Mediterranean.
The idea was the fruit of the different experiences matured during intervention abroad and the first step towards a closer cooperation civil protection agreement between the four countries, focused essentially on reciprocal aid in the event of an emergency.
During the following year, the four proponent countries worked together on the idea, which in 2007 was approved by the European Union as a pilot project, with funding of € 900,000. This was the start of the trans-frontier cooperation project “Force d’Intervention Rapide Europèenne 4”, namely Fire 4.
Fire 4 is part of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection and aims to fine-tune shared operational methods for the four partner countries regarding forest fires and earthquakes, improving prevention and intervention by the different European civil protection teams.
The project was also an important opportunity for perfecting the “modular” operational approach, which the Commission drew up together with Member States to optimise and accelerate civil protection intervention on a European level.
Fire 4 involved many activities, organised over a 30-month calendar, from 1st May 2007 to 1st November 2009, with the aim of deciding on multinational assessment and intervention teams, setting up shared methods of operations management and standardising technologies used: workshops, training courses, exchange of experts, acquisition and sharing of equipment for radio-transmission and, above all, international relief exercises (the first in Italy regarding the risk of forest fires, “Sardinia 2008”; the second in Portugal, in May 2009, regarding earthquakes).
Comprising representatives of the Civil Protection Authorities in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, the Fire 4 Management Committee includes representatives from other countries – Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Malta and Slovenia – as “associated” countries, with the aim of sharing methods and procedures adopted by the core of “guide” countries.
In February 2008, Greece joined the project, no longer as an “associate” but as “partner” country.
Fire 4 thus became Fire 5.