The establishing of a bicommunal response team to fight fires across the island under the auspices of the EU and/or the UN as a confidence building measure was proposed on Tuesday by the Turkish Cypriot institution for the protection of the environment (Cekova).

Cekova’s president Rifat Sieber said his institution and foresters held a meeting to evaluate what is needed to combat fires in the occupied areas, in personnel and equipment required and to address the problems that exist across the board and provide proposals for their solutions because of the recent fire in Flamoudi.

Sieber said that a deficiency in the measures that should have been taken before that fire was identified.

“Firebreak lanes and roads were not cleared and prepared,” he said.

Moreover, according to Sieber, the ‘forestry department’ has 11 heavy vehicles in total but only four heavy vehicle drivers while there are only seven engineers in what is meant to be a 15-man crew.

In addition, of the 61 ‘forestry department’ employees initially there, only 37 have remained.