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Once demonstrated that remote sensing technologies are useful in forest fire emergencies, the aim is to provide what users need and when they need it. The inexistence of a fully-operational EO space segment dedicated to these tasks leads to the development of near-operational systems based on current existing technology and trying to conceive new ways of improving results. In this paper, the overall architecture of such a system is presented, compiling the experience acquired in the several aspects of the problem and presenting an integral and comprehensive solution. The system architecture comprises three well-defined parts: the EO reception facilities, the service provider centre(s), and the decision support systems (DSS). The EO data acquisition facilities receive data from sensors whose usefulness for forest fire management has been proved through several demonstrations and studies. This is the case of the MODIS sensor onboard TERRA and AQUA satellites, the AVHRR in NOAA, the CAVHRR in FENG-YUN, and the recent SEVIRI sensor onboard MSG. Future space segments would be incorporated to the system in a progressive manner, leading it into a more operational stage. The service provider centres are conceived as the facilities that ingest EO data from the reception stations along with non-space data, process the information with a set of scientific tools and algorithms (Toolbox), and generate the value-added products directly usable by end-user organizations under an operational scenario. The resulting fire products are then stored in the centre and disseminated to users according to their needs. A near-operational system for forest fire management has to be tailored trying to meet the exact needs of each type of users, focusing specially on real-time requirements. Therefore, this system cannot be either a mere product generator to be accessed by the users or a "just product-oriented" supplier. The only solution to achieve the proposed objectives is to wrap the generated products around a customized and committed service envelope delivered at the user-end. This is the mission of the Decision Support Systems (DSS) installed at user premises, which are an essential tool to achieve operational fire information services using satellite data.