Maintenance work. Fires: “non-standard” fires, wear and tear on firefighters, mean engagement … Civil Security spokesperson analyzes the situation

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Large fires are still raging in the Gironde, Aveyron or Main-et-Loire. Civil Security Spokesperson, Commander Alexandre Goasard, provides an update on relief organization, firefighter fatigue, and this extraordinary summer.

Are you very concerned about the situation on the forest fire front in France?

The fire in the Gironde is exceptional, non-standard, and beyond concern, leading to the commitment of great resources, land resources and air resources. In the process, our absolute priority is to protect the population by evacuating. It has priority over shutdown. Due to the power and speed of the fire, we cannot immediately extinguish it.

Is the resumption of the Landeras fire in the Gironde a surprise to you?

There are three parts to the answer. That a fire with a circumference of 66 km takes so long to resume firing on a regular basis – sometimes a hundred a day – is nothing new to us, we expected it and we had a large number of staff at this party there. The second aspect, as indicated by the delegate of the Governor of Gironde and the Minister of the Interior, is that there is a compatibility in the elements between the number of fires that have been set in Gironde which leads to the belief that there are fire executors in the area. The third aspect, the soil is peat, very special, which can ignite, and can crawl under the peat layer.

“For 20 years, we have by no means had this huge number of fires.”

Many departments are affected by the fires this summer, has no one heard of them?

We projected all these fires on national territory in 2030-2050 following the IPCC report. Over the past 20 years, we have by no means experienced as many fires across the territory as today. Areas like Morbihan haven’t experienced such fires for a very long time.

What area really burned this summer in France?

Since June 10, 2022, the start of the forest fire season in France, 39,000 hectares of forest and 9,984 hectares of crops and plants have burned, according to civil security figures. So 50,000 hectares just for this summer.

No deaths: a miracle budget…

There were no fatalities or serious injuries. Hopefully we won’t have bad news in the next few days. Our teams work in difficult conditions, at 40 degrees Celsius. We lost a firefighter who fell ill this summer. It is not neutral to our teams. For comparison, in 1949 in the Gironde, a reference year, there were 80 dead.

How many people were mobilized in the field all over France?

10,000 firefighters, professionals and volunteers were mobilized across the national territory. They are reinforced by civil security teams. Gironde has more than 1,000 firefighters.

7 Kinder, 7 Dash and 6 Helicopters

What about air assets?

We have 12 Kandirs, 7 Dash – these are the planes that drop the inhibitor – and 6 Hydro-launcher helicopters. They are all active. Frequently, due to the intensity of the interventions, the aircraft may remain on the ground temporarily for maintenance and control reasons.

How are interdepartmental firefighter reinforcements determined?

The first level is administrative. Codis have the power to use their resources for their own benefit. The second component is the area. There are seven defense and security zones (South, Southeast, Southwest, North, West, East and Paris). Each department escalates its needs to its own area. You also have external or national means linked to the arbitration between staff and Cogic in Paris (Operations Center for Interministerial Crisis Management). National resources are directly in the hands of the Director General of Civil Security.

For the firefighters in Occitanie located between the Nare Gironde and Aveyron, how are reinforcements sent?

Each SDIS provides operational capability to its department and will say “I am able to provide 10, 15, 20 employeesTo incorporate the column that will come as a fire reinforcement.

Training new firefighters on forest fires

Were all firefighters sent as reinforcements trained to fight wildfires?

Firefighters have been trained in the dangers of wildfires. The initial goal was to be able to integrate into the OS when they came as reinforcements in the basins of southern and western France.

As for air resources, how are they distributed?

Air resources are linked to the South Region base. It is located in Nîmes. Regulatory discussions take place and the Director General of Civil Security takes arbitrations to see how many aircraft to send to the Gironde or another fire in progress.

France has the largest fleet in Europe.

Does France have enough air assets?

France has the largest fleet in Europe. There is a clear desire – as stated by the President of the Republic when he traveled to the Gironde – to continue increasing this fleet. For two years, we have achieved a significant increase in the fleet. We have moved from 2 to 7 Dash and we will have 8 at the end of 2023. For Canadair you should know that there is no more Canadair factory but there is a will from the European Union to request additional Canadair resources for France by the European Civil Protection Mechanism. There will be a reversal of this trend in September. A reflection on ground means will be simultaneous in September to see how one best equips departments with bushfire carriers.

Is it conceivable that France will defend the European means to confront the fires?

We’ve already done this over the summer since the Greek Kanders came as reinforcements. We do not deprive ourselves of anything. If we reach capacity limits, we can call the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

Physical and mental wear and tear

Summer is trying to firefighters with the multiplication of fires …

The forest season began on June 10. The teams have been operating for two months now because they are either working in their sector or have left as reinforcements. There is physical wear that exists. You also have psychic clothes. The men are in contact with residents who fear for their homes, fear losing everything, and fear for their lives as well. If firefighters are committed, it’s because they show empathy. It is clear that they are affected. Most of the people involved live in the area in which they work. Girondin firefighters had to evacuate their families and return to the fire behind them. Leaders in the field take these considerations in the field and raise them when necessary to prevent them from taking unnecessary risks. Often men do not want to receive. There is also support from health and support services.

An assessment of these fires will be made in September?

It is within the DNA of Civil Security to provide feedback after each summer with ONF or Météo France, for example. Clearly this work will take place in September after an exceptional summer like this one, with the risks of 2030-2050 expected to come at our door a little earlier than anticipated.

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