ATHENS – In case there’s a repeat of the devastating summer of 2021, when record heat helped create hundreds of wildfires across the country, Greece is bringing in firefighter reinforcements from Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, France, Finland and Norway.
They will be based in Athens, Larissa and Tripoli, and are being funded by the European Commission, said European Commission, after the New Democracy government moved to increase fire protection and firefighting equipment.
A meeting at The Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection decided supplemental firefighters will be sent to high-risk areas for patrols to prevent forest fires, freeing up members of the fire service and police, said Kathimerini.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who also blamed climate change for the fires breakouts, was at the meeting and agreed to step up air surveillance with single engine Air Tractor and PZL aircraft in areas with a fire risk level of 4 or 5.
It was also announced that a dedicated fire service unit for fighting forest fires will have a total strength of 590 officers, 90 of whom have received specialized training.
Municipalities have been given the power to clear land where owners are negligent or unknown, with the country’s second-largest island of Evia being almost half-consumed by the flames in 2021, wiping out agricultural businesses.
Civil protection evacuation procedures are being drawn up for high-risk areas in tourist spots as well as archaeological sites, the report added, as foreign visitors are returning in big numbers during the still lingering COVID-19 pandemic.