For decades wildfires have been considered by governments as a forest hazard. Before, forest burned with less severity than today. The amount of vegetation density, the increase of forest cover, or the effects of climate change have made wildfires an increasing concern of Civil Protection.

To combat wildfires significant resources are required, including aerial means, fire engines or heavy machinery assisting personnel in their operations.

Air operations have become the most effective means of fighting forest fires, allowing fire fighters to reduce the intensity of the fire and even to extinguish it, given the ability to intervene quickly.

Castilla-La Mancha has been selected to form part of the FIREGRUS Project, within the so-called Buffer Capacities of the European Union, to participate with personnel to assist in cases of temporary needs caused by extraordinary disasters occurring in European territory.

Coordinated by the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha and under the Directorate General of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), the regional government will collaborate with other counties in wildfire fighting operations and share a number of resources. Specifically, two land cargo planes with a capacity of up to 3,100 liters, two liaison officers (coming from the Forest Fire-fighting Service of Castilla-La Mancha, who are experts in wildfire behavior), and an aeronautical maintenance technician.

As for the methodology of cooperation, the European Response Coordination Center (ERCC) will be responsible for receiving requests for assistance from other countries in extraordinary cases, transferring such requests to the Center for Regional Coordination of Forest Fires of Castilla-La Mancha (COR) through the National Emergency Center (CENEM) of the Directorate General of Civil Protection of the Ministry of Interior.

Once the aid application is approved, the resources made available to the European Union will be deployed in the requesting country under the coordination of the ERCC, either for intervention in the face of a disaster or in the face of situation where a disaster is imminent, depending on the value of the forest fire risk index.

Objective

Collaboration with countries participating in forest fire fighting operations will be developed through making available two aircraft during the European forest fire season with three main objectives:

  1. Protect people from the threat of forest fires.
  2. Reduce the impact of forest fires on the environment.
  3. Facilitate a network for forest fire-fighting in Europe and sharing of resources.

Actions and resources

In this European project, two aircrafts contracted with Martínez Ridao Aviación, S.L will be involved in the forest fire fighting operations. In addition, support provided includes two liaison officers and one aeronautical maintenance technician. The liaison officers, technicians of the Forest Fire Extinction Service of Castilla-La Mancha, are experts in air operations and also have knowledge about the European Union Mechanism for Civil Protection (EUCPM).

These liaison officers should ensure coordination between the aircraft and the local emergency management authority. In addition, they would be able to contribute with their expertise in assisting with aerial firefighting operations.

Expected results

Through this line of international cooperation, the aim is to help establish and strengthen a network to share resources, experiences and knowledge in air operations to combat forest fires and an efficient and safe use of air resources (aircraft) for interventions in wildland fires in the European Union, as well as in other countries where forest fires become a serious problem for civil protection.

Financing

Funded by 40% by the European Commision

Total eligible cost: 665.677,00 EUR

Contribution of the European Commission: 291.633,00 EUR

Funded byr:           Coordination:                                                                  Partners:                                                                        
 
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