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All services to fight fires better equipped than they were last year

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All the relevant services are better staffed and better equipped to deal with fires than they were last year, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Wednesday.

He was speaking after chairing a general meeting on the prevention and battling of fires, which he said functioned as a preventive mechanism so that “we can assess the degree of preparedness of the various departments”.

The meeting was attended by officials from all relevant government departments including the chiefs of police, the fire service and National Guard, the civil defence, search and rescue coordination centre, the forestry department and district administrators.

Also in attendance were Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos, Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas, undersecretary to the president Irene Piki and director general of the justice ministry Louis Panayi on behalf of Justice Minister Anna Prokopiou.

“The adequacy of equipment was evaluated, whether it concerns flying vehicles or firefighting equipment,” he said, adding that firefighting projects and zones, as well as the work done by district administrations, were also discussed.

Ioannou said that when and where issues were identified, instructions were immediately given for the necessary preparations to begin on time.

“In general, my fellow ministers and I are very satisfied, both with the coordination between the services and with the adequacy, at least compared to previous years, of equipment and human resources,” he noted.

Asked whether firefighting aircraft are ready to respond to incidents, the minister said that according to the briefing he received from the ministry of agriculture, “they are ready to handle any possibility”.

Ioannou added that no staffing issues had been flagged by any of the services.

“On the contrary, they are better staffed, and better equipped than they were last year, whether that refers to small firefighting vehicles, personal gear or any other equipment,” he said.

“All the necessary actions have been set in motion to make sure we are at a much better place in terms of human resources and equipment compared to previous years,” he added.

Asked whether management centres in rural areas are expected to be coordinated during the summer, Ioannou clarified that on the basis of operational plans, the forestry department is responsible for the mountainous areas, while the countryside and urban areas are under the jurisdiction of the fire service.

The minister finally said that the central operations centre for crises is the Search and Rescue Centre’s ‘Zenon’, which activates a tailored plan according to the incident taking place.

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