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Course Readies Latam Firefighters for Industrial Risks, Climate Change-fueled Disasters

A 10 August 2023 photo of firefighters preparing for various types of emergencies at a training course in Cartagena (Colombia). EFE/Ricardo Maldonado Rozo

More than 250 firefighters from nine Latin American countries have been participating here this week in the 57th edition of Spanish Fire Training School.

That intensive training course organized by Texas A&M University and held this year at the Bogota-based SACS Group’s facilities in Cartagena is aimed at preparing firefighters to respond to industrial accidents and climate change-triggered disasters.

The course, which is being held outside the United States for the first time, is part of a series of programs that fall under the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s Texas Annual Fire Training Schools umbrella.

SACS Group CEO Mario Gamboa told Efe that the firefighters are undergoing training in different activities involving fire and rescue and the handling of dangerous materials.

The goal is to “improve the resilience of each of these regions or countries” in facing risks from industrial activities and natural events derived from increasingly tangible climate change, said the head of a company that offers sustainability solutions to large companies.

The participating firefighters are receiving training in skills that include industrial rescue, fire management, technical response to incidents involving dangerous materials, advanced anti-fire operations, industrial fire brigade training and the operation of vehicle-mounted fire pumps.


The main risks facing countries worldwide are those stemming from the effects of climate change like “floods, hurricanes and, of course, forest fires,” which are increasingly affecting more people, Gamboa said.

“What these trainings do is bolster skills and preparedness in terms of the whole climate change transition that’s coming,” he said.

Firefighters and risk-management personnel from Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are participating in this year’s edition.


The expert said countries are working hard to improve their emergency response capacity and institutional and governmental resiliency.

But he still lamented a lack of initiatives in Latin America to enhance preparedness.

“Most of our firefighters began boosting their skills several years ago, but we still need more cooperation with governments, institutions and of course academia so that more and more firefighters receive training in these disruptive events,” Gamboa said.

The six-day course, which concludes on Friday, has been held at a modern training center in Cartagena and offered instruction in “controlling industrial fires, controlling municipal fires … controlling fires (resulting from) air accidents,” as well as in a range of rescue operations.

Gamboa said Texas A&M University’s decision to hold this year’s Spanish Fire Training School in Cartagena shows its confidence in Colombia’s ability to serve as a training space for firefighters worldwide.

Source : La Prensa Latina