Cyprus will have ten aerial firefighting means at its disposal this year, it emerged after a wide-ranging meeting on tackling and preventing fires ahead of the summer season.
Reports suggested Cyprus is in negotiations with Jordan for the supply of the aerial means such as planes and helicopters.
The meeting, chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace, was attended by the ministers of finance, interior, defence, justice and agriculture and other relevant bodies.
After the meeting, a government statement said authorities assessed the progress of the implementation of the measures decided by the state to tackle fires and the existing needs.
Among the issues discussed were the adequacy of aerial firefighting, the degree of preparedness of the competent services on extinguishing fires, the utilisation of technology, the coordination framework of the relevant services and their adequate staffing, as well as the adequacy of fire protection works and fire zones, and the upgrading of rural fire stations.
The utilisation of local authorities in fire management was also mentioned and the establishment of a register for commandeering specialised vehicles in case of emergencies and the management of volunteers.
Regarding aerial means, the statement said the agriculture ministry made the necessary arrangements so that there will be sufficient helicopters and planes in May.
Last week, fire service spokesman Andreas Kettis said his department can rely on multiple aircraft to put out fires, including two belonging to the forestry department and two helicopters belonging to the police and to the national guard.
He added the firefighting season officially started on May 1 and it will likely last until the end of October, but due to climate change, “this is no longer set in stone”.
In 2021 there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of urban fires and a 6.5 per cent decrease as far as rural fires are concerned, Kettis had said.
Last July, a huge fire in Arakapas killed four men and destroyed some 55 square kilometres of forest, cultivations, homes, and other property.
In the immediate aftermath of the Arakapas fire, President Nicos Anastasiades instructed the fire department to conduct a study on a holistic approach to monitoring rural and forest areas for a timely detection of fires.