Civil Protection Mechanism activated to fight forest fires in Greece

Civil Protection Mechanism activated to fight forest fires in Greece

22 August 2009

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Greece — The European Commission has activated the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection following major forest fires

Due to the extreme weather conditions and severe forest fires Greece today activated the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection and requested assistance with aerial means. The most dangerous fires are in North-East Attica. Within one hour Italy offered help with two Canadair CL-415 amphibian water-bombing aircraft. In addition, upon a request by the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), France is ready to mobilise two Canadair CL-215 airplanes of the European tactical reserve of fire fighting aircraft (EUFFTR), which was established this summer to assist Member States facing major fires. Cyprus offered to send a fire fighting helicopter.

The EUFFTR planes assisted the Member States in extinguishing forest fires already four times since it became available in July 2009. Earlier this week the EUFFTR completed a five days-long intervention to deal with devastating blazes in Portugal.

Stavros Dimas, the EU Commissioner for Environment and Civil Protection, said: “The European reserve of forest fire fighting aircraft, established with the support of the European Parliament, again proves to be a great example of European added value by filling the aerial fire fighting capacity gap in the most difficult situations.”

Background information:

The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) is operated by DG Environment in the European Commission. It is the operational heart of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection. It is available on a 24/7 basis, and provides countries access to the community civil protection platform. Any country affected by a major disaster – inside or outside the EU – can launch a request for assistance through the MIC.

During emergencies the MIC plays three important roles: serving as a communications hub for the exchange of requests and offers of assistance; providing information on civil protection preparedness and response to participating states as well as a wider audience of interested stakeholders; supporting co-ordination of the provision of European assistance. In 2008 the EP earmarked € 3,5 million for the pilot project “the European forest Fire Tactical Reserve”, with two Canadair CL 215 fire fighting aircrafts available this summer to assist Member States.

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