Cyprus — THE government aims to slash the number of forest fires this summer by raising public awareness and increasing the efficiency of the fire department, the justice minister said yesterday.
The protection of the environment and public safety are of the utmost importance to the government, and we expect all the services involved in those matters to be fully alert and coordinated in order to effectively deal with fires, said Ionas Nicolaou, speaking at an event to launch the 12th annual fire safety week.
The governments goal, the minister said, is to unite all the fire service units on the island within a new strategic plan which will clarify the responsibilities of each department and increase efficiency.
Despite the financial crisis, the government has not, and will not, make any cuts when it comes to fire safety, he said, adding his ministry was leasing more vehicles and hiring firemen.
In his speech to members of the fire service, the police force and the press, the minister said that this year the fire service and the government are concentrating on the prevention of fires in the countryside.
Nicolaou stressed that, during the hot summer months, a single spark could ignite a fire which could cause damage and destruction to the environment and threaten human lives and property.
For this reason I call on everyone to be extremely careful and avoid any activities which could cause a fire, he concluded.
I wish and hope that by the end of this year we will have a smaller amount of fires than in 2012 when we dealt with 4194 fires in the countryside which was 463 less than in 2011, said deputy fire chief, Marcos Trangolas.
Trangolas stressed that this year especially, due to the economic crisis, the public need to be more careful when it comes to fire by placing more importance on preventative measures.
The fire services mission is to deal with fires in the countryside, in residential and industrial areas and also deal with dangerous situations including traffic accidents, earthquake rescues and flooding, he said.
General-manager of CNP Laiki Insurance, sponsors of fire safety week, Andreas Stylianou, told members of the press that the insurance company and fire services common goal is to make the public aware of the dangers connected with fires. Prevention is better than any form of healing, he said. It is our responsibility to be aware of the main ways to avoid starting a fire in order to take the correct preventative measures.
The 12th annual fire safety week began yesterday under the auspices of the ministry of justice and public order. Prevention through Knowledge is the slogan for the week, with planned events to inform the public on fire prevention, culminating with the Fire Service Games on Saturday, May 18 at 3pm at the Makarios Stadium in Nicosia