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Cyprus

Marked improvement in fire-fighting success

Last year, the fire services dealt with 6,811 fires of which 4,332 were in rural areas, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Monday.
This was an increase in fires of 20 per cent over 2014 but due to faster response times, the extent of the damage was halved, the minister said.
Speaking at the launch of fire prevention week, which runs until May 15, Nicolaou said that according to their statistics, 93 per cent of fires are now put out in fewer than 60 minutes, 65 per cent are put out in under ten minutes and 20 per cent are extinguished within 15 minutes.
“Our aim is to further improve response time so that it will be possible in all cases to put out fires in less than 30 minutes,” he said.
Nicolaou said there had been a decision to hire 169 seasonal firefighters this year on eight-month contracts compared to six months in previous years.
At the same time three new stations were opened last year and another new one this year that will operate on a 24-hour basis.
The fire services have already started meetings with 170 community leaders islandwide to discuss preventative actions for this year.
“I hope for excellent cooperation in order to avoid unpleasant situations either because of ignorance or because of negligence so that the human factor will not be yet again the main cause of fires in our country,” Nicolaou said.
Observatories that will be manned likely by national guardsmen are also being built in Larnaca, Nicosia and Paphos to help further reduce response times.
“Environmental protection is everyone’s business and therefore particular emphasis on awareness is being given to voluntary participation,” said the minister.
“The role of voluntary organisations, local authorities, the district administration, the civil defence, army reserves, NGOs and volunteer firefighters is crucial to the work of the fire service and it is through their support and urging more volunteers to help that we get the best results, both in the area of prevention, and the fight itself,” he added. At the moment, Nicolaou said there are only 150 trained volunteers however and he issued a plea to the public for more help in prevention, monitoring and assistance in case of a fire where feasible.

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