In a UK first, this week's Exercise Orion will be testing the European Civil Protection Mechanism in a scenario where UK resources need supplementing from European colleagues.
The exercise is being co-financed through the contribution of the Civil Protection Financial Instrument of the European Community following a successful funding bid, led by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The bid was supported by Hampshire and Lincolnshire Fire Services, the Fire Service College and Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), Germany.
Area Manager Roy Harold, from Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, is leading the evaluation project for Orion, one of eight project managers reporting to the Programme Director, and Hertfordshire's Chief Fire Officer, Roy Wilsher.
Roy Harold said: "Evaluation is a really important part of any exercise. The learning that comes out of an exercise is invaluable and allows change to happen. But it has to be captured in a useable format and that's what good evaluation does.
"The actual process of evaluation is a simple one and consists of four main steps: observe, analyse what you saw, make a judgement, and finally, make a recommendation.
"In order to evaluate, you need a reference to work to so we'll be assessing against best practice guidance from around the world. Assessments will be made against UK civil contingencies guidance, United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) guidance and the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) process.
"In a year's time I would like to look back and see that something has got better as a result of the evaluation of Orion. If things stay exactly the same then the evaluation will have failed.
"Even the best run exercises or incidents that are dealt with exceptionally well can always be improved on. There is always something to be learnt or something than can be made better next time. And it's my job through the evaluation project to make sure that happens."
FIRE will be providing updates from Exercise Orion at Fort Widley in Hampshire from September 8th and the Exercise Orion Conference in London on September 9th, including exclusive video footage. See next issue of FIRE magazine for extensive coverage.