After the devastating wildfires last year, mainly in Evia and Varybobi in Attica and other parts of southern Greece, the government, also wary of the huge political cost of a repeat this summer, has drafted contingency plans which include the deployment of the country’s armed forces.
The measures also include increased air surveillance by Civil Protection aircraft during high-risk days, to intervene immediately where necessary. This was not the case last year as aerial means were only activated after the fires had broken out.
The armed forces will have a key role to play with patrols around the country, especially in dangerous areas such as Attica, Viotia, Evia and the Peloponnese, as a deterrent for possible arsonists and for early warning purposes. At the same time, the patrols of the fire service will be increased, while the forestry service will provide assistance with its own patrols and vehicles.
Another very significant fire prevention measure provides for a ban on access and traffic in areas of high risk, such as forests etc.
The relevant provision was voted over the Easter Week in Parliament. Among other things it provides that the ban will be activated depending on a given risk index (3, 4, 5), according to the daily fire prevention map. The bans will be decided by regional authorities after the convening of the Coordinating Body of Civil Protection and the suggestion of the commander of the fire services of the regional unit and the heads of the local forestry services.
The main difference compared to previous years is the inclusion of risk index 3 – versus only 4 and 5 in the past. The ban will also be implemented in any regions considered risky and not only in those that have been defined as dangerous under a largely outdated legal framework.
The tightening of the framework for fire prevention also has political implications given the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ thoughts about when the elections will be held.