After the traumatic experience of this year’s destructive blazes, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reportedly intent on “changing everything” regarding the structures, methods, means and personnel when it comes to fighting forest fires.
Mitsotakis has insisted that preventive measures were taken ahead of the fire season this summer, but acknowledged that they proved insufficient, given that Greece is already experiencing the impact of the climate crisis and the tools at the disposal of the state apparatus are woefully inadequate.
To the end of upgrading capabilities, the government has already decided to implement a series of measures. These include the creation of a special corps of 500 specially trained firefighters that will operate in forest areas and deal with fires before they reach infrastructure networks. The plan foresees the creation of this force by January.
Moreover, responsibilities will be decentralized with forestry services placed under the centralized control of the relevant department of the Environment Ministry. Authorities will also introduce the method of a back fire. This entails a fire that is deliberately initiated in front of an active front in order to control it. Australia will be asked to provide know-how.
Other initiatives include the creation of regional civil protection centers, which will have a better picture of the specifics of each area, as well as the expansion of the fire-fighting fleet with more aerial means.
What’s more, firefighters will receive training in new forest surveillance and fire detection systems and technologies, mainly through drones, while the demarcation of anti-fire zones will be more efficient.
Changes are also expected to the leadership of the Fire Brigade, which are expected to be announced by early September.