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President of Civil Protection warns that fire prevention “is still not enough”

PRESIDENT OF CIVIL PROTECTION WARNS THAT FIRE PREVENTION “IS STILL NOT ENOUGH”The president of the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC) has spoken today, saying that the investment in fighting rural fires should be maintained, considering that “prevention is working, but it is still not enough”.

“Prevention is working, but it is still not enough and that is why it forces us to have the means on the ground to fight”, said General Duarte da Costa in an interview with the Lusa news agency.

Costa, who has been in office for about 18 months, maintained that the issue of rural fires “is not won in combat”, but in prevention.

“We win in land use planning, in registering what our forest is, in the ability to turn our forest into something that is profitable for the populations themselves. However, the remodeling of a territorial model, like ours, takes years. Maybe it takes 20 years because we have to do a whole restructuring of what our forest design is,” he said.

He underlined that “until then, a robust operational structure for combat must be maintained, because at the end of the line it is combat that will solve all previous inefficiencies”.

Duarte Costa maintained that “the investment in combat cannot yet be lowered” and, as an example, pointed to the case of last year’s fire season, in which 8,000 occurrences occurred and a performance of about 95% success in the attack was recorded.

“It’s not that 95% that worries me, what worries me is the missing 5% and 5% of 8,000 is 400 major fires, and three of them occurred in the Algarve region. We have to have the means to fight these big fires,” he said.

At the meeting of the Integrated System for the Management of Rural Fires, Duarte Costa stressed that he was asked whether it is possible to reduce the number of air resources.

“The answer I gave is that I don’t feel confident enough at the moment to reduce this number of air assets because there are still no upstream solutions that allow me to have a perfectly safe territory. When I have the forest all sorted, with cleaning in the primary and secondary strips, when the territorial planning is done and everyone knows what their plot is and the number of occurrences drops substantially. Then we were able to transfer resources from the operational component to surveillance and prevention”, he pointed out.

In the interview with Lusa, Duarte Costa stressed that the work “is a process of continuous improvement”, but there were issues that Civil Protection had to “attack head on” after the 2017 fires.

The organisation and coordination of forces on the ground, support for operational decisions, increase in air resources and remodeling of the SIRESP communications network are among some of the improvements introduced in the system and pointed out by the president of Civil Protection.

“That was the work that needed to be done right away, from then on we have been improving year after year, with greater capacity for media intervention in areas of greater risk, a greater perspective of working on the risk before the occurrences happen”, he said.

Source https://www.avozdoalgarve.pt/