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UME personnel tackling the serious forest fire in Sierra Bermeja back in 2021. Josele. Archivo
Army carries out training exercises in Malaga and Cadiz in readiness for possible wildfires
Emergency response

Army carries out training exercises in Malaga and Cadiz in readiness for possible wildfires

Personnel from the military emergency response unit are in training this week in several locations including Ronda

SUR

Monday, 13 May 2024, 14:29

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The summer season brings with it high risks of forest fires breaking out, so the Spanish army's UME (emergency response unit) has one of its battalions undergoing instruction and training exercises from Monday to Friday this week in various locations across Malaga and Cadiz to prepare for the next forest firefighting campaign.

The whole exercise will involve 349 soldiers and 30 fire engines, six supply trucks, two D7R and one D5R JCB-type diggers, among other resources. To this end, all the troops are to be divided up and deployed to Ronda, Tarifa and Barbate. There they will put into practice the skills that could later be put to good use, enabling them to be called into service as required by the chief emergency manager for a real live fire situation. For information, they will be in Las Navetas in Ronda, in Cadiz at Celemín reservoir, the Conil coastline, El Retín military training area, the bay of Algeciras and Tarifa.

This training exercise will be supported additionally by aircraft from the Spanish Air Force and the Army's own emergency helicopter unit acting together under the operational command of UME itself. Should the need arise in a real fire, personnel and resources can be called up from any of the units that UME has throughout Spain, as well as from the rest of the armed forces.

This exercise is part of a preparation programme with the aim of being able to face summer firefighting campaign "in the best possible position to step up" if, and when, required by the authorities in charge of such emergencies. In a press release, UME reported that the exercise will involve manouevres with fire engines, as well as demonstrating the possibility of working in all types of terrain, even working solo. Other scenarios will include directly attacking a fire, indirect actions to attack a fire (e.g. creating fire-breaks or clearing brush) or tackling a forest fire that is nearing an urban area, all while maintaining the ability to respond fully to any real emergency.

During the week-long exercise, drones will be used to hone search and recon skills. Other units will join in on this activity too - namely, the Navy's RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) teams, National Police, National Police attached to the regional Junta, Guardia Civil, Spanish Red Cross and Infoca.

The UME is a joint force formed from all of Spain's armed forces. It is set up as a permanent unit whose mission is to intervene anywhere across national territory and to contribute to the security and well-being of all citizens, together with all state-run institutions and those in public service, in cases of serious risk, catastrophe, calamity or other public need.

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