Connect with us

Disasters

Forest fires: European Commission is stepping up its preparations for the forest fire season 2021

SHARE:

Published

on

To be prepared for any large-scale wild fires this season, the European Commission has set up a strengthened European fleet of 11 firefighting planes and 6 helicopters hosted across member states under the rescEU system. The Commission also issued guidelines to member states to strengthen their fire prevention measures.

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: "Every year, forest fires pose a significant disaster risk to the whole of Europe. The fire season is intense, long and the fire-prone areas are expanding northward. Ahead of this year's  forest fire season, we must do all that is necessary to reduce the impact of fires. Our proposed rescEU firefighting fleet will include 11 planes and 6 helicopters, and can be readily deployed any time during this forest fire season. The fleet is strategically positioned in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden, and I would like to thank these countries for their great cooperation. By working closely together at all levels, including through the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre and with rescEU, the EU will be able to prevent, prepare and respond to forest fires, both this year and in the future.”

The season's risk for forest fires is forecasted to be above average, with temperatures expected to be higher-than-average from June to September in the Mediterranean region. The season might also see less rainfall, especially in central Europe and many areas of the Mediterranean. This can increase the risk of wildfires in both fire-prone areas and new regions of Europe.

Advertisement

rescEU firefighting capacities

  • The 2021 rescEU firefighting fleet foresees airplanes and helicopters from six EU Member States, ready to be deployed to other countries in times of need.
  • The rescEU firefighting fleet will consist of: 2 firefighting airplanes from Croatia, 2 firefighting airplanes from Greece, 2 firefighting airplanes from Italy, 2 firefighting airplanes from Spain, 6 firefighting helicopters from Sweden*.
  • This comes in addition to 1 firefighting airplane from France and 2 firefighting airplanes from Sweden which are part of the rescEU fleet on a long term basis.Preventive, preparatory and monitoring measures for the 2021 forest fire season.

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius added: “Wildfires are a growing threat to forests, which are home to 80% of all the known plants and animals on Earth. New Commission guidelines showcase prevention measures based on good governance, proper planning, effective forest management and sources of EU funding. Investment in prevention is key. At the same time, we must be sure to have the capacity to respond when wildfires do break out. This is where the EU Emergency Response and Coordination Centre plays a key role.”

The European Commission continues to monitor and coordinate all preparations for this year's forest fire season.

  • New guidelines on forest fire prevention facilitate a better understanding of land-based wildfire prevention and effective responses.
  • National and European monitoring services and tools such as the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) provide an overview of European data from national forest fire programmes.
  • Regular meetings with EU member states and Participating States to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism during the season to exchange information on their state of preparedness and fire risks.
  • Two meetings per year with EU member states and third countries on wildfire prevention to make experiences available to all. One of the outcomes of these meetings are the new guidelines on land-based wildfire prevention.
  • The upcoming new EU Forest Strategy addresses key priorities and boosts the EU's ability to predict, prevent and manage natural and climate related disasters such as wildfires as an immediate priority.
  • The new EU Biodiversity Strategy recognises the importance of wildfires and other natural disasters, and proposes ambitious restoration targets to increase the resilience of our ecosystems.
  • The EU's Forest Information System for Europe (FISE) brings together all information on Europe's forests.

Background

Forest fire prevention, preparedness and response actions are working hand in hand to save lives, livelihoods and protect the environment. Having experienced forest fire experts, well-trained firefighters, information technology and sufficient response assets available makes a difference.

The EU ensures a coordinated approach to preventing, preparing and responding to forest fires when those overwhelm national response capacities. When the scale of a forest fire overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Once activated, the EU's Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre coordinates and finances assistance made available by EU member states and six additional Participating States through spontaneous offers. In addition, the EU has created the European Civil Protection Pool to have a critical number of readily available civil protection capacities allowing for a stronger and coherent collective response. Should the emergency require additional, life-saving assistance, the rescEU firefighting fleet steps in to provide additional capacities to confront disasters in Europe. The EU's Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service complements operations with detailed information from space.

More information

Forest Fires

rescEU

EU Civil Protection Mechanism

Emergency Response Coordination Centre

Commission Guidelines: Land-based wildfire prevention

Disasters

Forest fires: EU mobilizes planes to support Turkey

Published

on

On 1 August, Turkey, ravaged by unprecedented forest fires, activated the EU Civil Protection Mechansim. In an immediate response, the European Commission has already helped mobilize one Canadair plane from Croatia and two Canadairs from Spain. These firefighting aeroplanes are part of rescEU, the European reserve of civil protection assets.

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: "The EU stands in full solidarity with Turkey at this very difficult time. I thank all the countries which have offered help. Our thoughts are with the Turkish people who have lost their loved ones and with the brave first responders who are doing their best to battle the deadly fires. We stand ready to provide further assistance."

The European Union's 24/7 Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre is in regular contact with the Turkish authorities to closely monitor the situation and channe the EU assistance.

Advertisement

Background

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism strengthens co-operation between the EU member states and six participating states in the field of civil protection, with a view to improve prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the Mechanism.

More information

MEMO 'Fighting forest fires in Europe – how it works'

European Civil Protection Mechanism

RescEU

Continue Reading

Disasters

Hope of finding survivors of blast in German industrial park fades

Published

on

By

A view shows Chempark following an explosion in Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

The operator of a German industrial park that was rocked by an explosion on Tuesday (27 July) dampened hopes of finding more survivors in the debris and warned residents near the site to stay away from soot that rained down after the blast, write Tom Kaeckenhoff and Maria Sheahan, Reuters.

Two people were found dead after the explosion at the Chempark site, home to chemicals companies including Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and Lanxess (LXSG.DE), and 31 were injured.

Advertisement

Five are still missing, Currenta chief Frank Hyldmar told journalists on Wednesday, adding that "we have to assume that we will not find them alive".

With the focus on the scene still on finding the missing people, including with the aid of high-resolution drones, the company said it was still too early to say what caused the explosion, which led to a fire in a tank containing solvents.

Experts are also analysing whether soot that rained down on the surrounding area after the blast could be toxic.

Until the results are in, residents should avoid getting the soot on their skin and bringing it into the house on their shoes, and they should not eat fruit from their gardens, Hermann Greven of the Leverkusen fire department said.

He also said that playgrounds in the area have been closed.

Continue Reading

Disasters

Blast in German industrial park kills two, several missing

Published

on

By

An explosion in a German industrial park on Tuesday (27 July) killed at least two people and injured 31, setting off a fierce blaze that sent a pall of smoke over the western city of Leverkusen. Several people were still missing, write Maria Sheahan, Madeline Chambers and Caroline Copley, Reuters.

Emergency services took three hours to extinguish the fire at the Chempark site, home to chemicals companies Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and Lanxess (LXSG.DE), that flared up after the blast at 9h40 (7h40 GMT), park operator Currenta said.

"My thoughts are with the injured and with loved ones," said Chempark chief Lars Friedrich. "We are still searching for the missing people, but hopes of finding them alive are fading," he added.

Advertisement

Police said five of the 31 injured people were affected seriously enough to need intensive care.

"This is a tragic moment for the city of Leverkusen," said Uwe Richrath, mayor of the city, which lies north of Cologne.

The area and surrounding roads were sealed off for much of the day.

Police told residents living nearby to stay indoors and shut doors and windows in case there were toxic fumes. Currenta said locals should also turn off air conditioning systems while it measured the air around the site for possible toxic gases.

Firefighters stand outside Chempark following an explosion in Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler
Smoke billows following an explosion in Leverkusen, Germany, July 27, 2021, in this still image taken from social media video. Instagram/Rogerbakowsky via REUTERS

Chempark's Friedrich said it was not clear what had caused the explosion, which led to a fire starting in a tank containing solvents.

"Solvents were burned during the incident, and we do not know precisely what substances were released," Friedrich added. "We are examining this with authorities, taking samples."

Sirens and emergency alerts on the German civil protection agency's mobile phone app warned citizens of "extreme danger".

Leverkusen is less than 50 km (30 miles) from a region hit last week by catastrophic floods that killed at least 180 people.

More than 30 companies operate at the Chempark site in Leverkusen, including Covestro (1COV.DE), Bayer, Lanxess and Arlanxeo, according to its website.

Bayer and Lanxess in 2019 sold Chempark operator Currenta to Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MQG.AX) for an enterprise value of €3.5 billion ($4.12bn).

($1 = €0.8492)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending