Fighting forest fires: firefighters complain about lack of helicopters

Fighting forest fires: firefighters complain about lack of helicopters

According to the german firefighters’ association, there is a lack of powerful transport helicopters that can be deployed immediately in the fight against forest fires.

"We don’t have quick access to helicopters that can transport coarse debris," association vice president hermann schreck told the german press agency.

Flying technology is very effective in fighting coarse fires or fires that are difficult to access. "It is also safer, especially for forces in areas with munitions, such as in brandenburg."

Helicopters must be requested

According to the association, helicopters must be requested from the federal police and the federal armed forces; the fire departments do not have any of their own. In some cases, state police forces still provide helicopters, as in bavaria. Water tanks with a capacity of up to 5000 liters are available.

While the federal police can often help, the situation is worse for the armed forces, said schreck. Their helicopters, which can bring 5000-liter tankers into action, "are either not ready for action, or the equipment is abroad.

A spokesman for the interior ministry in potsdam, on the other hand, explained that cooperation with the federal armed forces and the federal police in brandenburg was working well. "We always received air support very quickly when needed, both during the major fires last year and now," he told dpa on saturday.

Increasingly natural operations

Nationwide, firefighters are increasingly having to deal with natural disasters caused by climate change, such as fires, severe thunderstorms and windstorms, schreck stressed. "And it is to be feared that forest fires still increase."

The best thing would be a central point to request helicopters, schreck said. This was a classic task that the federal government could take care of. "We need a partner we can call and where we can get immediate help in transporting our equipment." There must not be any loss of time for effective fire fighting here. None of those involved is unwilling. "But we need reliability."

In april, a spokesman for the defense ministry emphasized that the federal armed forces would only help out "if the responsible auxiliary forces were no longer able to extinguish the fire or were no longer able to get enough material and personnel to the point where they needed them.

The firefighters’ association represents the interests of almost 32,000 professional firefighters and around one million people in volunteer fire departments.

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