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Category: fire

Bushfires, Wildfires and Damaging fires – Rinse and Repeat or Risk Reduction and Resilience?

Dr. Peter F. Moore, Forestry Officer, Forest Fire Management & Disaster Risk Reduction, in the FAO-Forestry Department originates from Australia and posted the following statement in response to the ongoing wildfire crisis:

“In January 1994 there were four fire related deaths, hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt and fingers of fire crept into the city of Sydney.

  • Parliament, the cabinet and the coroner held inquiries and released reports on the reasons, causes of death and the possible means of avoiding the same problems in the future.

On Christmas Day 2001, the concerns of fire authorities in New South Wales were realised – in full measure. The lead-up to summer conditions had been drier than normal. December 25, 2001 was hot with temperatures well over 30C; very low humidity of less than 15 per cent; and winds from the west. These bush fires burnt nearly 700,000ha, with 115 houses and many other buildings destroyed and scores of others damaged.

  • And Parliament and the coroner held inquiries and released reports on the reasons and the causes …
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Networks of trust – the foundation for wildfire management

Written by Laura Nikinmaa & Maria Schlossmacher

Imagine having a team of chefs cooking Eggs Benedict. One of them has only ever made omelets; the other one has all the ingredients but no recipe. The third one knows how to do it, but they have been forbidden to cook anything else than scrambled eggs by the owner of the restaurant. On top of everything, they are not talking to one another because they are all competing for promotion. The outcome? You guessed it, anything but Eggs Benedict, the restaurant owner is enraged, and none of the chefs gets a promotion.

While the restaurant world is known to be fiery, the actual world of wildfires is straight up in flames. We have seen abnormally active fire season in 2019 in many countries. Poland had almost three times more fires compared to the 10-year average this year, Germany more than five times more, and France more than seven times more (EFFIS). The cherry on top was the United Kingdom, which had eight times more fires in 2019 than in the 10-year average. It was therefore fitting that the SURE project workshop (“pro-active fire management”) was organized back to back with the England and Wales Wildfire Forum’s (EWWF) Wildfire Conference from 20th to 22nd of November in Cardiff, Wales. The EWWF conference had more than 180 participants from 14 different countries, out of which almost 50 stayed to participate in the SURE workshop on the 22nd. The theme of the conference was “Manage the fuel – Reduce the Risk”. The speakers consisted of experts from practice and research, from fire and rescue services to forest administrates, and the topics varied from practical examples to the latest knowledge we have on wildfire behavior.

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EFI Bonn looking for a PhD Researcher on Perceptions of Wildfire Risks

The European Forest Institute (EFI) is now looking for a PhD Researcher on understanding perceptions of wildfire risks and related land management at its Bonn, Germany, office.

Deadline for the application is 16 December 2019 COB.

The objectives of the research are:
• To analyse perceptions of fire risk and related concepts of fire (risk) management in different regional and sectoral contexts across Europe amongst a) fire and land management experts, b) land owners and managers in different regional settings;
• To enhance learning and generate transferable knowledge on risk and its management through interconnecting experts across regional contexts.

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Disaster Risk Management via app?

The European Commission’s Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre and the Directorate General for Research and Innovation have developed a platform, Gaps Explorer, that collects pre-analysed information on recent and ongoing Disaster Risk Management (DRM) projects and provides recommendations for actions to three groups: practitioners, policy makers and scientists.

The first pilot was developed on Forest Fires. This is a major hazard throughout Europe, producing large environmental and economic losses and having an impact on human lives. Effective forest fire management and decision-making requires science-based information. The analysis of the knowledge, methodologies and technologies produced in the last two decades opens up new perspectives for enhanced forest fire risk management in the face of climate change, social and cultural trends and growth dynamics.

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Der tote Taucher im Wald – Gedanken zur Feuerbekämpfung aus der Luft

Vielleicht erinnert sich noch der ein oder andere an den Tatort „Der tote Taucher im Wald“. Ein Löschflugzeug schöpft Wasser, ein Taucher landet in einem Waldbrand…Die gegenwärtige Diskussion über Löschflugzeuge in Deutschland erinnerte mich jedenfalls daran.

Während wir schon jetzt bis August 2019 teilweise überraschende Ausmaße der Waldbrände feststellen müssen, wird kontrovers über den Umgang mit Feuer und den möglichen Löschmöglichkeiten diskutiert. Auch wir haben uns zum Thema integriertes Feuermanagement hier auf diesem Blog hinreichend geäußert und wollen nun auch zur Diskussion über Löschflugzeuge beitragen, im Folgenden ein paar Gedanken.

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EFI as chartered member of PyroLife

Deadly wildfires in the past two years and the heatwave we are facing throughout in Europe this year are a glimpse of what to expect in the future. Therefore, the European Union has granted 4 million Euro for PyroLife, a project in which framework a new generation of experts will be trained in integrated fire management. We are happy to announce that we will take part in the newly established project.

PyroLife is the first integrated doctoral training programme on wildfires globally and will train 15 PhD candidates across Europe, coordinated by Wageningen University & Research.

Within this project, the European Forest Institute will supervise one PhD student and further offers various fire related trainings through the SURE project.

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Polish-German exchange on wildfire prevention

Written by Michael Herrmann, ForestFireWatch and Alexander Held

„One firefighter within the first 15 minutes is worth more in the forest than 100 firefighters after an hour” – motto of Polish forest fire protection services, emphasizing the importance of initial attack

From 6-7 June 2019, Polish forest officers from the State Forests organization, firefighter and representatives of the Forest Research Institute met with members of the German volunteer organization “ForestFireWatch” for an exchange of knowledge and experience in Rzepin (Forest District), Poland. Main objective of the meeting was the exchange of experience in the field of wildfire prevention.

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rescEU put into practice!…partially.

The current heat wave does not only create a feeling of summer holidays but above all, it puts fire and rescue services as well as foresters on constant alert.

At the same time, the rescEU plan is getting into its next phase, which is good news. RescEU is the common European response to disasters by strengthening the EU’s collective ability to react.

Especially in consideration of the high risks of forest fires, the Commission has launched the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU systems, consisting of two aircraft from Croatia, one aircraft from France, two aircraft from Italy, two aircrafts from Spain, and six helicopters from Sweden. The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides stated: “With rescEU, we have put words into action. We have delivered a practical tool for citizens that can save thousands of lives in the future. RescEU means having a much stronger, pan-European civil protection system.”

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Springtime in flames

and Alexander Held

What had already been predicted in 2018, became true.

Spring is too warm and too dry, again. The year 2019 had a hot start: during the first four months, more areas have been burned than during the entire 2018 across Europe. The Joint Research Centre’s European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) of the EU Science Hub recorded 1233 fires corresponding to a burned area of more than 250 000 ha by the end of April. In comparison, there were 1192 fires burning 181 000 ha during the whole 2018.

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Extreme Trockenheit führt zu hoher Waldbrandgefahr

Von Alexander Held & Maria Schloßmacher

Aufgrund akuter Waldbrandgefahr herrscht in vielen Regionen Deutschlands und darüber hinaus derzeit die höchste Warnstufe. Bereits vor Ostern musste die Feuerwehr zahlreiche Waldbrände löschen.

Der Waldbrandgefahren-Index des Deutschen Wetterdienstes (DWD) stuft vor allem Brandenburg, den Süden Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns, das nördliche Sachsen und den Osten Sachsen-Anhalts als stark gefährdet ein. Im nördlichen Sachsen dürfen wegen der hohen Brandgefahr einige Wälder nicht von der Öffentlichkeit betreten werden.

Gründe für den Ausbruch des Feuers sind vielfältig und doch leicht auszumachen. Die Kombination aus dem Rekordsommer 2018 und die anhaltende Trockenheit haben den Wäldern zugesetzt, sodass die letzten (Wasser)-Reserven aufgebraucht sind. Sollten sich die Prognosen über ein weiteres Dürrejahr 2019 bestätigen, werden auch die Zahlen der Waldbrände weiter drastisch steigen. Trockene Pflanzenreste und der Wind tragen zum Ausbruch des Feuers bei. Der Wind trocknet altes Gras, noch bevor das neue Grün wachsen kann und begünstigen so die schnelle Ausbreitung des Feuers. Da die Bäume erst langsam beginnen ihre Blätter zu bilden, kann die Sonne ohne Schutz bis auf den Waldboden scheinen und trockenen Pflanzenteile sind leichter entflammbar. Dadurch ist die Waldbrandgefahr im Frühling besonders hoch einzuschätzen.  Wind und Trockenheit, mehr noch als die Temperatur und die warmen Tage über dem Osterwochenende, spielen dabei eine entscheidende Rolle.

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