New Greek Initiatives to Combat Wildfires

Firefighters battle flames on the island of Zakynthos

Greek authorities unveiled new strategies on Thursday aimed at addressing the recurring issue of wildfires that frequently plague the nation, particularly during the scorching summer months.

The revised plans entail bolstering the staffing levels within specialized forest firefighting units and adjusting the deployment of firefighting aircraft. This initiative comes in response to the extensive wildfires witnessed last year, which led to the loss of over 20 lives and inflicted significant damage to forests and agricultural land.

The recent proposals were introduced following a series of devastating fires last year, including one in northeastern Greece that raged uncontrollably for approximately two weeks, emerging as the largest wildfire recorded in a European Union country since 2000.

Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias emphasized the urgency of the situation during the presentation, attributing the heightened risk of wildfires to a changing climate and extreme weather patterns characterized by drier winters and more frequent heatwaves. He underscored the government's commitment to mounting a robust response to safeguard the populace, tourists, properties, wildlife, and forests.

Key elements of the new strategies involve dispatching water-dropping aircraft at the onset of a wildfire outbreak rather than waiting for requests from ground firefighting teams. Additionally, there will be an augmentation in the number of specialized forest firefighting teams, with a particular focus on enhancing rapid deployment capabilities by air. Ground forestry units will also be reinforced with firefighters to enhance coordination during firefighting operations.

Furthermore, Greece aims to expand its fleet of water-dropping aircraft by procuring seven new Canadair planes over the coming years. This acquisition, subject to approval by Greek lawmakers, includes five new planes equipped with a six-ton water capacity and two additional aircraft sourced through the European Union's civil protection RescEU program.

Government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis announced that the first two planes are slated for delivery in 2027, followed by one more in 2028, another in 2029, and the remaining three in 2030. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to visit Canada to finalize the Canadair deal, which is anticipated to take place during his upcoming trip.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024