news15 febbraio 2011

Forest fires: start of the alert period for winter-spring 2011

The Head of the Department has sent out operational instructions to regional authorities and ministries

14 February was the start of the alert period for forest fires and of interfacing which will last until 30 April 2011. Short- and medium-term weather forecasts and appraisal models for forest fire susceptibility conditions in fact indicate the arrival of conditions favourable for fires throughout Italy and in particular in northern regions. Notifications of fires have increased over the past few days as have requests for assistance from the State airfleet.

Operational instructions. In view of the alert period and based on the competences of the Autonomous Regions and Provinces in prediction, prevention and active fighting of forest fires, the Head of the Civil protection Department has sent out a series of operational instructions to the Regional Authorities, competent Ministries, the Uncem – National Union of Mountain Municipalities, Communities and Bodies and to ANCI – National Association of Italian Municipalities.

The guidelines provide suggestions of an operational and organisational nature. In particular, they recommend:

  • putting in place all possible kinds of prevention to reduce the risk of forest fires starting and spreading, in particular near to built-up areas, strategic infrastructures and road networks. The risk of fires starting may be reduced by minimising the combustible mass and creating protective strips of land, while respecting the forest and landscape;
  • ensuring support for the drawing up and adoption of municipal or inter-municipal civil protection plans, alerting mayors and ensuring a constant communication flow with local structures in the event of incidents, to allow activation of territorial monitoring, guaranteeing information to the public and providing emergency assistance if necessary;guaranteeing constant links between the Soup - Permanent Unified Operations Rooms and the regional operations rooms and necessary collaboration with the Coau - Joint Operative Air Centre and the Civil Protection Department National Operations Room, for, respectively, requests for aircraft assistance and constant updates on the situation on a regional level.

Fire-fighting air fleet line-up. The current line-up in Italy includes six Fire Boss and three S64 heavy-lift helicopters. Plus three medium-size Italian Army helicopters, two AB412 fire service helicopters and two AB212s belonging to the Navy. From 18 February six Canadairs will also be returning to full service. A contract was signed on 8 February with the new company that won the contract for Canadair management.