European Commission Bolsters Cyprus Firefighting Fleet Against Forest Fires

European Commission Bolsters Cyprus’ Firefighting Capabilities

In anticipation of a scorching summer with heightened forest fires risk, the European Commission has announced a strategic move to fortify Cyprus’ firefighting fleet. Two Air Tractor aircraft will be leased to Cyprus, with the leasing costs fully absorbed by the EU. This support is part of a broader initiative to enhance firefighting capabilities across the region.

Zacharias Giakoumis, Head of Communication at the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), revealed that the lease for the two firefighting aircraft would commence on June 15 and extend until October 30. The decision comes in response to forecasts predicting above-average temperatures in the South-Eastern Mediterranean, which could lead to an increased likelihood of forest fires.

Giakoumis emphasized the flexibility of the assistance, noting that if another EU member state is in dire need and Cyprus is in a position to offer aid through the European Civil Protection Mechanism, the aircraft could be redeployed to support firefighting efforts elsewhere. Since 2016, Cyprus has activated this mechanism eight times and has contributed to 16 operations aiding other countries, including non-EU nations like Canada during its severe wildfires.

The year 2023 has been marked as the hottest on record, with around 500 million hectares succumbing to flames globally—a 32% increase from the average since 2006. Greece, Spain, and Italy bore the brunt of these fires. In Cyprus alone, 2,000 hectares were affected by fires in 2023, with ten significant incidents reported.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism is set to expand its support this year, offering 28 aircraft (24 planes and 4 helicopters) to member states, a significant increase from the 13 aircraft provided in 2022. Countries such as Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Greece will benefit from this bolstered fleet.

Furthermore, Giakoumis highlighted the growing presence of firefighters stationed in France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain for the summer season. This year sees an increase to 550 firefighters, with Greece hosting between 200 and 240 of them as part of a continued effort to strengthen regional firefighting resources.

firefighting aircraft

What are the new firefighting aircraft for Cyprus from the EU?

The EU has allocated two new Canadair CL-415 firefighting aircraft to Cyprus, enhancing its aerial firefighting capabilities and bolstering regional response to wildfires.

Can firefighting aircraft from the EU help Cyprus this summer?

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