Trade union Oekdy-Sek on Wednesday expressed their satisfaction with the government’s decision to extend the forest firefighting season from six to eight months.

The decision will also see several stations staffed with forest firefighters all year round and will come into effect on April 1.

The union explained that for the four months outside of forest firefighting season, forest firefighting shifts will work at 50 per cent strength at between six and eight stations to cover the island’s forested areas.

In the event that weather conditions present a greater risk of fire outside of the firefighting season, numbers will be increased.

Oekdy-Sek general secretary Giorgos Constantinou said shift work during the four months outside the season will be voluntary, and that all those wishing to opt in must express their wish to do so in writing.

He added that working hours in the shift system will be “distributed equally” to all those who opt in.

Speaking about the agreement at large, he said it had been “reached at the request of forest firefighters who are members of trade unions and has been discussed for several months.

“The pressure we exerted [on the government] last year brought results and the forest fire brigade has been staffed earlier this year. This timely staffing has helped to improve our response times, coordination, equipment troubleshooting, and training.”

A meeting between the government and various stakeholders took place with this decision in mind on Tuesday.