Fighting fires the French way: in this month's overseas focus, FIRE looks at how one of Europe's largest brigades manages major incidents and other emergencies, including modeling for forest fires. As regional control centres are set to be rolled out, Bouches du Rhone's diverse geography and scale provides an interesting comparison for call handling capacity.(Overseas Focus)

THE BOUCHES DU RHONE department is a region of 5,100 square kilometres, located in Provence in the south of France. The region ranges from mountains (the Alpilles to the north, the Saint Baume and the Saint Victoire to the east) to plains and fiat country (the Camargue), and includes the busy urban area of Marseille.

Bouches du Rhone is not only an area favoured by tourists--it is also an important industrial region with 31 High Risk Hazardous (SEVESO) registered sites. This part of France is also renowned for its large forest fires--major incidents that demand a strong public safety organisation.

The Bouches du Rhone Fire Brigade (SDIS: Service Departemental D'incendie et Secours des Bouches du Rhone) receives 500,000 emergency calls a year and attends 120,000 incidents, some of which involve more than 200 vehicles. …

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