HAMPSHIRE fire crews have received training from US authorities through a new programme.

A dozen firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service worked alongside 20 forestry workers and emergency services dedicated to the task of handling dangerous wildfires.

The programme saw Hampshire firefighters sent to work in Oregon as part of an ongoing skills-sharing relationship between Hampshire and Oregon fire services.

As part of the training, station manager Dave Hodge, the fire authority’s lead on wildfires, went to Oregon last month with fellow station manager Dean Hodges, watch manager Martyn Elliott and firefighter Dan Maidment to train with their US counterparts.

During their visit, they were involved in fighting the Milli Fire that spread to more than 75,000 acres, the largest wildlife in the state.

The wildfire threatened the town of Sisters where the firefighters were forced to evacuate hundreds of residents.

Alongside this, the group looked at other areas including medical response and the state’s multi-agency command teams.

Mr Hodge said: “We aim to be the best.

“You can’t do that by staying within your borders.

“You have to find out where the experts in each field are and see how they do things.

“Their approach to wildfires is that you can’t prevent all of them so you have to prepare for them – the focus is on resilience.”

The Oregon crews visited Hampshire in June 2016 when they participated in a joint training exercise with the county’s service, using technology such as thermal imaging cameras and a wall-piercing lance.

Tim Craig, deputy fire chief, said: “The visit has been extremely interesting.

“I cannot overstate how useful it is to have this experience.”