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Incident Command System training in Bosnia and Herzegovina builds the country’s wildland firefighting capacity

BOSNIA – From May 23 – June 1, two USDA Forest Service disaster management specialists traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina to engage in consultations on wildland firefighting and emergency response and to conduct training on basic and intermediate Incident Command System. Joe Reinarz, Incident Commander for the Boise National Incident Management Organization, and Beale Monday, Operations Section Chief for the Boise National Incident Management Organization, worked with Juan Caamaño Azcarate, a representative of the Spanish Forest Fires Assessment and Advisory Team who provided perspective on utilizing ICS in the European Context. Petro Pavlychenko, Regional Projects Coordinator for the Forest Service International Programs office, delivered the technical assistance and training.

The team met with local officials and firefighters to discuss fire management needs and responses. The country is dealing with a complex fire environment, including increasing fire frequency, very mountainous terrain, limited road access in many areas, landmine concerns and cross-border cooperation with neighboring countries. This visit was the result of recommendations from a 2018 visit led by Dan Cottrell, Operations Foreman for the Missoula Smokejumper Base, to assess the capacity and response capability in BiH to manage and suppress the growing number and size of wildfires.

Following consultations, the team delivered 3.5 days of training on the Incident Command System to 27 participants who represented commanders, firefighters, and administrators from throughout the country. Two participants came from neighboring Croatia, whose border with BiH is one of the cross-border areas of concern for fire. The training was based on ICS I-100 and I-200 courses, covering basic and intermediates concepts of ICS. Trainers also shared overviews of wildland firefighting in the U.S. and Spain, offered models for managing simple versus complex incidents, emphasized the ethics of safety and promotion of a learning cultures through the use of after-action reviews and presented a wildland fire scenario that allowed participants to apply their knowledge of ICS concepts.

The International Programs office has coordinated technical assistance missions to BiH, a small country located in the Balkans region in southeastern Europe, since 2007 on a variety of topics including watershed management, illegal logging, forestry education, recreation and trails, and fire management.

Group pays attention at the speaker in front of the room
Joe Reinarz, Incident Commander, Boise National Incident Management Organization teaching principles of ICS to training participants in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. USDA Forest Service photo by Petro Pavlychenko.
Group of firefighters standing , talking outside their firehouse
The team meets with local firefighters from the City Department for Ecology and Security in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. USDA Forest Service photo by Petro Pavlychenko.