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FIRE-IN - Fire and Rescue Innovation Network

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FIRE-IN (FIRE-IN - Fire and Rescue Innovation Network)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

FIRE-IN has been designed to raise the security level of EU citizens by improving the national and European Fire & Rescue (F&R) capability development process. FIRE-IN addresses the concern that capability-driven research and innovation in this area needs much stronger guidance from practitioners and better exploitation of the technology potentially available for the discipline. We argue that this is to be achieved by practitioners more effectively coordinating on operational needs, on available research and innovation, on standardisation, and on test & demonstration and training. Further, we argue for the need for the development of a common research culture that is to be achieved by better cooperation between practitioner and research/industry organisations. FIRE-IN addresses these objectives through four main areas of activity: (i) the identification and harmonisation of operational capability gaps based on the contribution provided by a significant and heterogeneous practitioner network, (ii) the identification of promising solutions to address those gaps through monitoring and screening of research outcomes and the continuous involvement of research and industry representatives, (iii) the definition of a F&R Strategic Research and Standardisation Agenda (SRSA) based on the previous elements as well as (iv) the development of a concept for more efficient use of test & demonstration and training facilities to support innovation and joint skill development. The overarching result of the project will be a proven process for organising F&R capability-driven research based on a wide practitioner and research and innovation network. The network will be linked at cross-domain and cross-border level and will feed harmonised operational requirements (or challenges) into national and EU capability development, i.e. research, innovation, procurement and standardisation programmes.
FIRE-IN is organised into 3 cycles, each of them developing as follow:
Thematic workshops for practitioners to identify their needs, then harmonized in Common Capability Challenges (CCCs) and Future CCCs – WP1
Screening of existing solutions – WP2
Request for ideas (RfI) to innovation providers to fill the gaps – WP3
WP4 is supporting the whole process with the eFIRE-IN platform and continuous interactions with networks, RTO organisations, projects and initiatives.

The 1st cycle has raised a large and almost exhaustive set of CCCs. In the same manner, it has produced an extensive list of existing solutions, which made it difficult to disseminate to practitioners. A “Traffic Light System” has been developed to assess the level of coverage of CCCs while delays in the delivery of the eFIRE-IN platform hampered the first RfI procedure.
D3.5 Final Strategic Research and Standardization Agenda #1 was delivered in July 2019 to synthetize the whole cycle and guide policy makers

Subsequently, the 2nd cycle focused on consolidating and prioritizing the CCCs. It also explored ways to disseminate the most promising existing innovations able to address the key CCCs outlined examining for publications, lessons learnt and technologies the operational priority, the solution maturity, standardisation, interoperability and current use. This time, the eFIRE-IN platform could successfully support the RfI procedure and more than 50 innovative solutions were collected.
D3.6 Final Strategic Research and Standardization Agenda #2 was delivered in August 2020 to synthetize the whole cycle. Before that, the project produced five thematic Policy Briefs to support EU policy officers framing the Horizon Europe program.

The 3rd cycle started at the same time the COVID crisis was spreading in Europe in 2020. As a result, it was not possible to run physical workshops (normally key steps in the project). With uncertain perspectives, it was first decided to delay the workshops, then to replace them with online events. Therefore, the 3rd cycle is now running with 10 months delay, and the related deliverables are postponed.
In the same the project was readapted to fit with the main needs of the practitioners during the crisis and to make the best use of communication and dissemination online tools available.
So the eFIRE-IN platform has served as a repository of best practises face to COVID 19 for F&R services in Europe (gathering 79 materials) and a successful webinar on Just-in-Time Training was organised jointly with four other EU Network of Practitioners projects (300 attendants).
• A shift of operational thinking in Europe associated to innovation-based capability development: FIRE-IN has successfully started in associating numerous practitioners in the very first stage of the project process. The ongoing connections between them and research and innovation organisations, through partners, demonstrates that the shift of operational thinking is achievable.
• FIRE-IN practitioner network engagement impacts: The two first cycles of workshops have produced consistent outputs. Many capability gaps have been consensually identified by associated experts. Some of them, fully transversal between thematic working groups, can be pointed out as common capability challenges. The third cycle has started identifying the Future capability challenges.
• Supporting EU policy implementation: The capability gaps pointed out by practitioners are being disseminated to EU policy makers in several ways: Policy Briefs; presentations in the Community of European Research and Innovation for Security (CERIS) meetings in Brussels and other inter-programs events; Production of deliverables on current and future common capability challenges; Publication on e-FIRE-IN platform and dissemination website and newsletters
• An enhanced security in Europe through capability-driven research programmes: a strong network of practitioners has been built and consolidated now. In a second time, FIRE-IN has engaged with RT Organisations and industries, particularly in WP3. So, capability challenges have been transferred to solution providers. Several tools and events are continuously developed to support these transfer activities: the e-FIRE-IN platform, the annual FIRE-IN dissemination workshop, project exchanges…
• An enhanced security in Europe through better standardisation efforts: Associated experts have identified the need for standardisation as a key point in several capability challenges. They have also distinguished guidelines and common procedures vs. standards required depending on the type of challenges. This has now been transferred to EU initiatives dedicated in standardization, namely CEN Technical committee 391 and STAIR4SECURITY project.