How well would the Southwest be prepared in the event of a major wildfire? There are no firefighting planes here. But helicopters and new cooperations.
Karlsruhe (dpa/lsw) - In view of the long drought and increasing risk of forest fires, the southwest is also relying on new cooperations. According to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Interior, cooperation with France for the use of smaller fire-fighting aircraft has been agreed in the event of an emergency. Baden-Württemberg can fall back on fire-fighting helicopters from the police and the Bundeswehr. However, the country does not have its own fire-fighting aircraft. One of the reasons: there is a lack of suitable water areas from which larger aircraft could take water when flying past.
There is Lake Constance. However, the withdrawal of water by an airplane could endanger ships and bathers, explained a ministry spokeswoman for the German Press Agency in Karlsruhe. "We take the risk of forest fires very seriously," emphasized Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU). The number of vegetation fires in Baden-Württemberg has not increased in recent years. "But we are preparing for changed operational situations," said a spokeswoman for the ministry.
The Ministry of the Interior already sees the country as well prepared. Fire brigade units are ready all over the place. "At around 3,200 fire department locations across the country, over 110,000 firefighters are available around the clock for emergencies." Thanks to a good network of forest paths, operations on the ground are possible in almost all parts of the country.
"If combat from the air is necessary, we have two state police helicopters with external fire-fighting water containers. In addition, helicopters from the federal police or the armed forces, for example, can be requested." So far, however, such an effort has not been necessary. However, police helicopters with external fire-fighting water tanks could be used quickly and easily.
According to the ministry, firefighters from Baden-Württemberg are also taking part in a pilot program to fight forest fires in Europe. They learn, for example, how Greece deals with forest fires. Because southern countries have been fighting extreme and devastating forest fires for a long time.
Forest owners in particular are concerned about the prolonged drought. According to Jens Borchers, the head of the large forestry company in Fürstenberg, the Black Forest is in danger. There is also alarm in Baden-Baden and the surrounding area because of the persistent drought.
There are no publicly owned fire-fighting aircraft in Germany. If states and municipalities need aerial support for vegetation fires, they ask for administrative assistance so that the Bundeswehr or the federal police can send helicopters with water tanks. Politicians from the FDP and the Greens are calling for the purchase of fire-fighting aircraft at the federal level.