To prepare for the risk of forest fires during the upcoming summer, the EU is further reinforcing its European fleet of firefighting aircraft under the rescEU system. The EU is financing purchases by the Swedish government of 2 new firefighting airplanes to add to the reserve. This adds up to a total of 13 airplanes and 6 helicopters that will be part of the EU-funded rescEU fleet in 2020.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: "Forest fires can hit at any time and climate change has broadened their range across Europe. We need to be ready this summer. I thank our Swedish friends who are strongly contributing to our rescEU firefighting. I am very proud to see our European forest fire fighting fleet in place to be prepared in the best way possible for this year's fire season.”
rescEU Firefighting capacities
The EU is funding 7 EU Member States for pooling their airplanes and helicopters in the 2020 rescEU firefighting fleet, readily deployable to other countries in times of need.
The rescEU firefighting reserve consists of:
- 2 firefighting airplanes from Croatia
- 2 firefighting airplanes from Cyprus
- 1 firefighting airplane from France
- 2 firefighting airplanes from Greece
- 2 firefighting airplanes from Italy
- 2 firefighting airplanes from Spain
- 2 firefighting airplanes and 6 firefighting helicopters from Sweden.
Preparing and monitoring the 2020 forest fire season
- The ERCC will monitor fires as they develop and maintain close contact with the authorities of the affected country.
- National and European monitoring services and tools such as the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) provide an overview of European data from national forest fire programmes.
- Regular meetings with EU Member States and Participating States to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism ahead of and during the season to exchange information on their state of preparedness and fire risks.
- The EU's Copernicus emergency satellite mapping service can be activated to map forest fires.
The EU's Civil Protection Mechanism was so far based on a system, through which the EU coordinates the voluntary contributions of EU Member States and Participating States to a country that has requested assistance.
Offers of assistance are coordinated by the European Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) based in Brussels.
In recent years, extreme weather conditions and new emerging threats have stretched the ability of Member States to help each other, especially when several Member States face the same type of disaster simultaneously.
In such cases where there is limited or no availability of assets, rescEU steps in to provide additional capacities to confront disasters in Europe.