A very sunny June 2018 was also a very dry June! And I mean dry:
The sunshine duration in June with about 215 hours of sunshine reached 108 percent of the target of 198 hours. Persistent drought in the northeast, severe thunderstorms in the southwest:
At around 50 l / m², June reached only 57 percent of its target nationwide (85 l / m²). The month was very poor in Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, which had already been part of the drought affected areas in May. In Wittenberg for instance, from April 27 to June 20, only 0.9 l / m² were recorded. The drought had a catastrophic effect, because in addition to numerous wildfires, agriculture and forestry is already suffering enormous drought related damage.
We reported here recently about “Fires going North” and now we see fire incidents picking up as well in Germany. For instance: Erneuter Brand auf ehemaligem Militärgelände
Looking at the reports and media, I can conclude that in many parts of Germany the Fire Services are taken by surprise and preparedness as well as training for vegetation fire is obviously a bit of a shortcoming. Fire fighters are put into situations that they are not trained nor equipped for; a common view is fire fighters in full structural PPE (Protective Equipment) and sometimes even with breathing apparatus (!!) in outside temperatures around 30 degrees, handling heavy equipment (made for structural fire) in difficult terrain… We are putting fire fighters at risk! And this is a risk that can be mitigated by suitable wildfire equipment, improved wildfire tactic and strategy training. Excellent examples of how to build wildfire expertise into a structural fire service can be found in South Wales, UK.
I have to mention, that in the long run, the fire risk can only be mitigated through intelligent land and forest management. See here and here.
Source: WaldbrandTeam and Media News from Thuringia.
The fire danger forecast or Fire Danger Index FDI provided by the German Weather Service is predicting a few more days to come with high to extreme fire danger:
The European Forest Risk Facility and its network partners like (inter alia) the Pau Costa Foundation PCF, the Global Fire Monitoring Center GFMC, the WaldbrandTeam association, and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service can facilitate mutual exchange and support, training and capacity building such as Exchange of Experts (exemplary EoE Forest) within Europe, America (IAWF), Australia as well as South Africa.
German blog post on fires on contaminated land.
Some additional reading and visual impressions on too much PPE and too little PPE.
Burnt equipment due to static attack on a dynamic incident.
What happens if your structural PPE becomes too hot and the risk of heat stroke is higher than the risk to get burnt?
Looks cool, but not a good idea!
Almost the same indicators as of the devastating wildfires in 1975 which left 5 firefighters dead (being overrun bei a wind shifted flank) and a six killed because of a heart attack. Long term spring drought, storm stricken forest with tons and tons of dead and downed trees and cut up treetops, temperatures at an abnormal high over days and no relief in sight. Already several injured firemen fighting these fires and several “almost” incidents where firetrucks may have gotten lost if it wasn’t for the luck of the day. It’s time to rethink techniques, equipment, tactics and also use of fire as a firefighting tool or we will continue to lose battles… Be safe out there and always remember LACES!