Reinforced firefighting assets with eight fewer aircraft than last year

Rural firefighting device will count, as of today, with 52 aerial means

The rural firefighting device is now being reinforced for the second time this year, with 11.761 elements and 52 air assets on the ground, eight aircraft less than in the same period of 2022.

In a response sent to the Lusa agency, the Portuguese Air Force refers that the rural firefighting device will have, as of today, 52 air means, clarifying that formalities are taking place regarding the contracting of 20 aircraft that will enter into service throughout June.

«As of today [Wednesday] hiring processes or related formalities are under way in relation to 20 air means. These will enter service throughout the month of June as these processes are being concluded», the Air Force specifies, also noting that until Wednesday, 28 aircraft were available for combat.

The Air Force guarantees that the entities involved are working to have more air assets this year compared to 60 last year.

The National Operational Directive (DON), which establishes the Special Device for Combating Rural Fires (DECIR) for 2023, pointed to 1 air means for the period from June 30 to September 72, meaning that today less than 20 aircraft from the than those initially forecast and eight less than in the same period of 2022.

The Government has justified this situation with the lack of air assets on the market due to the war in Ukraine.

For the period between today and the 30th, called “charlie level”, 11761 operators will be on the ground, comprising 2550 teams and 2585 vehicles from the various agents present on the ground.

Compared to the same period last year, there will be 1108 more operational, 26 more teams and 158 more vehicles.

Among the means, the DON foresees, for this period, about 6471 elements of voluntary firefighters, 221 operational from the Special Civil Protection Force and 1784 from the GNR, in addition to the 1784 operational from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF), namely the forest sappers.

Within the scope of DECIR, the National Lookout Post Network, under the responsibility of the GNR, is already in operation, which is made up of 77 lookout posts to prevent and detect fires.

The means of combat will be reinforced again from the 1st of July until the 30th of September – “delta level”-, in what is considered the most critical phase of fires and which mobilizes the largest device, with 13891 operational personnel, 3084 teams, being on standby this year , 2990 vehicles, in addition to the 72 aircraft planned.

According to DON, the operatives involved this year in the rural firefighting device increased by 7,5% compared to 2022.

ICNF provisional data indicate that, since the beginning of the year, 3406 rural fires have broken out, which have affected 8521 hectares, 66% of which refer to bushes, 66% to forest stands and 4% to agricultural land.