Forest fires: preventing them and fighting them

With the hot season and the arrival of increasingly higher temperatures, the threat of forest fires returns; vegetation and wildlife at serious risk as well as the civilian population

As rescue workers, we know how forest fires pose a dire threat to our environment, the civilian community, and our own safety. With the arrival of the hot season and high temperatures, it is necessary to prepare to combat this threat and prevent the most serious damage.

Prevention: first weapon against catastrophe

The first weapon against forest fires is prevention. First and foremost, it is essential to warn and educate the population about the risks associated with negligent behavior such as throwing lit cigarettes or burning brushwood. In addition to this, it is necessary to create firebreaks, regularly remove dry vegetation (especially in times of drought), and implement early warning and monitoring systems, making use of satellite technologies and sensors.

Procedures and strategies in the event of a forest fire

Even the best prevention cannot rule out the occurrence of a forest fire. In the event of a disaster, it is therefore necessary for the rescuer to be well prepared and equipped, through constant education and training and proper equipment.

Equipment of the rescue worker

A fire rescuer’s equipment includes:

  • Helmet: Sturdy and heat-resistant, with a spark-protection visor and secure retention system
  • Jacket and pants: Made of fire-retardant and heat-resistant material, with arm, leg and torso protectors
  • Gloves: Made of heat- and cut-resistant leather or synthetic material, with reinforcements on fingers and palm
  • Boots: Waterproof, calf-high, with non-slip soles and reinforcements
  • Respiratory mask: To filter out smoke and fine dust

In addition to this, here is a list of tools and implements useful during an intervention:

  • Hoe: Sturdy and lightweight, with a sharp blade for making firebreaks
  • Fire beater: Made of fire-resistant material, for extinguishing small fires and dropping flames from trees
  • Back pump: For dispensing water or firefighting liquid, with hose and adjustable lance
  • Blower: For moving smoke and flames away from specific areas or creating safety zones
  • Saw: For cutting small branches and logs
  • Billhook: For cutting thicker vegetation and making paths
  • Shovel: For moving earth, sand or other materials useful in firefighting
  • Hatchet: For cutting large trees or branches
  • Flashlight: LED, water-resistant and with high light output, in case of poor visibility
  • Whistle: For signaling one’s position or giving orders to teammates
  • Utility knife: For small repairs or cutting ropes and webbing
  • Water bottle: With drinking water to maintain hydration during firefighting operations
  • Portable radio: For communicating with the operations center and other team members
  • GPS: For orientation in the terrain and for requesting support in case of emergency
  • First aid kit: For first aid in case of injury or trauma
  • Safety signage: For marking dangerous areas and signaling one’s presence to emergency vehicles

Sources and Images

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