Fires: the government is strengthening air and ground means of firefighting
Posted Apr 11, 2023, 10:30 PMUpdated on Apr 11, 2023 at 10:37 PM More water…
Posted Apr 11, 2023, 10:30 PMUpdated on Apr 11, 2023 at 10:37 PM
More water bombers and more firefighters. The government announced on Tuesday an “unprecedented” strengthening of forest firefighting resources, after a summer of 2022 marked by major fires. Nine additional water bomber planes and helicopters will be mobilized in 2023, bringing the number of aircraft from 38 to 47, as well as nearly 500 additional firefighters.
These announcements were made during a trip to the Cazaux air base, in La Teste-de-Buch in Gironde, by several ministers involved in the file: Gérald Darmanin (Interior), Marc Fesneau (Agriculture), Christophe Béchu (Ecological transition) and Dominique Faure (Local authorities). Gérald Darmanin specified that aerial means would be positioned in this department, as demanded by local elected officials since last summer, after approximately 30,000 hectares had burned.
Bomber helicopter and Canadair
In detail, four Air Tractor-type water bombers will be leased from July 1 and positioned in Bordeaux, where a water bomber helicopter will be positioned from June 1 and a Dash from July 1. Finally, two Canadair can be positioned in Gironde 48 hours before a risk signaled by the (new) forest weather forecast.
At the same time, the Minister of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with the representatives of the two trade unions for civil security flight personnel. According to the ministry, this document provides for the creation of specific functions within the aircraft group, in particular in terms of instruction, and a captain’s bonus for aircraft pilots. It also plans to upgrade the management and instruction functions within the helicopter group, and all the aircrew.
At the initiative of the government, the Senate had recognized “the dangerous nature” of these professions within the framework of a Bill passed last week on fire prevention. Gérald Darmanin has also decorated people who were “particularly mobilized” in the context of the fight against forest fires last year.
Massive reforestation plan
Christophe Béchu and Marc Fesneau, for their part, signed an agreement allowing the “effective triggering” of a massive reforestation plan announced in the fall by President Emmanuel Macron. In this context, a first tranche of 150 million euros will be released, announced Christophe Béchu, including 40 million allocated to the ONF to “better prepare forests for global warming”.
This plan aims to plant a billion trees within ten years, with the help of Ademe and the ONF. For the Minister of Ecological Transition, “it is neither a slogan nor an announcement effect, it is an ecological imperative to consolidate our public and private forests” in the face of global warming and its consequences.