Europe's Aerial Firefighting Conference

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The first European Aerial Firefighting Conference was held Oct. 21 and 22 in Athens, Greece, and it collected operators and suppliers from 22 nations running in association with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Primarily formed to address technologies and techniques to improve the efficacy and safety of aerial firefighting, the conference has been hailed as highly successful and marks the first in a series of such meetings to be held at other locations around the world. Panel sessions hosted in Athens by the EU Civil Protection Directorate's Chris Allen, at the Aerial Firefighting Conference, debated whether Europe should finance a cross-border aerial firefighting squadron. The conference's many interagency meetings covered topics from aerial firefighting management to shared knowledge systems and was dominated by safety management and technologies and an exhibition of some of the world's leading operators. Here in the U.S., the California Department of Forestry this year has made use of Canadian-owned Bombardier 415 "Super Scooper" aircraft that have already flown to combat this season's southern California wildfires. Upcoming events announced in Athens include another conference to be held in Anaheim, Calif., on February 19 and 20, 2009, and another to be held in mid-June in Sydney, Australia.