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Department of Forests

Forest Fire Management

The forest fire management system applied in Cyprus, provides the organizational framework for taking all necessary measures and actions, so as to reduce both the outbreak of forest fires, as well as their impacts. Integrated fire management and operational planning aim at reducing the number of fire outbreaks and the total burned area, the early detection of fire outbreaks and rapid response and effective fire fighting.

The fire management system includes:

  • Prevention measures,
  • Detection and reporting of forest fires,
  • Pre-suppression measures,
  • Fire suppression measures.

In order to deal with the problem of forest fires, much emphasis is given on fire prevention. The Department of Forests for many years applies a reliable mechanism to prevent forest fires and on an annual basis a fire prevention effort is undertaken, that includes different measures and activities aiming at reducing or eliminating the potential of a fire outbreak:
  • Law enforcement
Forest Legislation enforcement, functions as a deterrent to the lighting of fires and consequently to forest fires outbreaks. Offenders are subjected to strict penalties and in case of conviction they are sentenced to prison for a period not exceeding ten (10) years or a fine up to fifty thousand euro (€ 50.000), or both penalties. Law provisions related to forest fires are included in Article 32 of the 2012 Forest Law.
  • Awareness raising campaigns
Annually an awareness campaign is carried out, mainly with lectures at schools, military camps and organized groups. Within the framework of this campaign, brochures are issued and distributed to the participants. In addition, during the summer period awareness raising messages are transmitted though the radio and television and articles about the problem of forest fires are published in local newspapers and magazines.
  • Picnic and camping sites
Located throughout the State Forests of Cyprus, several picnic and camping sites managed by the Department of Forests can be found, that provide to the public standard facilities. Among the aims of these sites are to prevent uncontrolled picnicking in the forests and consequently to reduce the risk of fire outbreaks.

It is well known that when a fire is reached on its early stage, it is more easily suppressed and thus extinguished with less effort and cost. Therefore, an early detection of any fire outbreak and the immediate report to the authorities, enhances timely intervention and suppression. The main detection and reporting measures used by the Department of Forests are:
  • Fire lookout stations
Μonitoring of forest areas for fires is mainly achieved through the operation of several fire lookout stations. These stations are usually located on high vantage points, so as to maximize the viewing range of the fire lookout personnel.

Fire lookout station

  • Patrols
During the fire season regular ground patrols are organized in forested areas, usually carried out with small fire trucks. The main mission of these patrols is monitoring and reporting for the existence of forest fires, immediate intervention and suppression of any fire and the implementation of the forest legislation. Moreover, aerial patrols with loaded firefighting planes are also carried out, for the detection and immediate suppression of any fire.
  • Use of technology for monitoring forest areas

For continuous surveillance and fire protection purposes of forest areas like Akamas Peninsula, an area of high environmental importance, continuous monitoring technology is used in cooperation with other services, such as mobile Video/Thermal camera, unmanned aerial vehicles (Drones) and single cameras.
  • Phone number for reporting forest fires
Information from the public is crucial to ensuring forest fires are responded to as soon as possible. The public can report forest fires at the telephone number 1407, free of charge.

Pre-suppression measures include infrastructure designed to reduce the spread of any fire and to facilitate fire fighting forces during suppression operations.
The main pre-suppression measures are:
  • Fire breaks
Fire breaks are considered as one of the most important forest fire infrastructure, since they prevent the expansion of forest fires due to the interruption of the continuity of the vegetation and they facilitate access to fire trucks and fire fighting personnel.
  • Forest roads
The forest road network is a basic and necessary infrastructure, that enhances better management of forests and better protection against forest fires.
  • Forest telecommunication system
The Department of Forests has an independent wireless telephone network with the possibility of a national coverage, which is mainly used for reporting forest fires and for coordination purposes during fire suppression operations.
  • Silvicultural treatments (fuel management)
Silvicultural treatments aim at reducing the risk of fire outbreaks as well as the rate of spread of forest fires. These treatments include pruning, thinning and cleaning of the vegetation, mainly along forest and public roads and in places where there is a high risk of fire ignition, such as picnic and camping sites, garbage dumps, military training fields etc .
  • Water facilities
For refueling purposes of fire engines with water, a network of water tanks and hydrants exists located in most forest areas.
  • Heliports
Heliports located within or near the state forests can be used in case of an emergency for transportation purposes, mostly of wounded fire fighters or civilians.

Pre-suppression measures

The aim of the suppression measures described below, are to facilitate rapid intervention and effective fire fighting of any fire incident. This is achieved through the guidelines of the "Astrapi" plan, which provides and ensures the participation of the larger number of fire fighting forces available at the scene of the fire - in the shortest time possible.
  • Forest stations
In most forest areas there are forest stations, which are staffed by personnel of the Department of Forests. During the fire season, these forest stations are mainly used for hosting forest officers and fire fighters on duty.
  • Standby duty of Forest Officers
Throughout the fire season forest officers follow a standby duty program, for immediate intervention and suppression of any forest fire incident.
  • Forest fire fighting task force
Every fire season the fire fighting task force is organized, divided into groups of 8-20 people and positioned in different forest stations. All fire fighters are continuously trained and are alert to intervene and extinguish, any forest fire incident.
  • Fire engines
The Department of Forests has a fleet of fire engines of different types, which are distributed to forest stations.

Fire engines

  • Fire protection systems
In crowded spots within forested areas, such as picnic and camping sites, fire protection systems are installed that may be used in case of a fire.
  • Heavy vehicles (bulldozers)
Bulldozers, are mainly used for the construction and maintenance of firebreaks and roads. Furthermore, in case of a forest fire, bulldozes enhance significantly the operational capability of the extinguishing forces, by the construction of firebreaks.
  • Personnel carrier vehicles
Personnel carrier vehicles are used for the transportation of forest officers and fire fighters at the scene of the fire. Most of these vehicles are 4-wheel drive, which makes them particularly agile on off-road conditions.
  • Aerial firefighting means
Aerial firefighting means, plays an important and often a crucial role in forest firefighting operations. The available firefighting means, consists of 6 primary aerial assets that are used exclusively for forest firefighting, as well as a number of helicopters which are primarily used for other purposes, but if necessary, can be used, either for coordination purposes or for firefighting. The available primary aerial firefighting means consist of, two firefighting planes of the Department of Forests, two leased firefighting planes and two leased firefighting helicopters.
  • Operation centers
Operation centers are the physical location at which forest firefighting operations are coordinated. The Department of Forests operates on a daily basis and throughout the high risk period for forest fires, a General Operations Center located in Athalassa and three Regional Support Operations Centers. In case of massive fires, a Local Operation Center is organized in the area of the fire incident.
  • Cooperation with other agencies
The Department of Forests is in constant communication and cooperation with other agencies and authorities involved in forest fire fighting.
  • Voluntary firefighting squads
The establishment and active involvement of organized volunteering squads, enhances the efforts of the government services to confront forest fires.

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