Canadair water bomber from Southern France. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons License.
18 Feb 2019

Sweden wants to acquire their own water bombers after last year´s wildfire disasters across Europe


Northern Europe no longer wants to rely on help from Italy, Spain and Portugal when it comes to water bombing. Conflicts around resources with multiple forest fires raging across Europe at the same time has made Swedish fire authorities consider "biting the bullet" and buying their own planes.

 Cover Photo (Above) by Gérard JOYON. Canadair water bomber from Southern France. Wikipedia Commons License.

Norway already has helicopters for wildfire fighting, and bilateral agreements between the two countries have existed for many years. A European agreement with several of the southern European countries have been considered enough for Scandinavia´s largest forest producing country Sweden - until now. 

Last year, Europe was ravaged by forest fires, and there were conflicts around sharing the resources with both neighbouring Norway and with the southern European resources as simultaneous large scale forest fires were affecting various regions of the continent during the summer.

"Sweden's own resources for forest fire fighting were too small and not prepared for the large forest fires this summer", the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency states in a new report.

In the report presented on Tuesday, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) proposes a three-step development ahead of the forest fire season 2019. The Authority wants to procure helicopter capacity, scooping smaller aircraft, and ensuring that Sweden secures access to larger scooping aircraft - either as procured service or with their own aircraft. However, for this there is no final financing, according to the report.

"The most important thing is that we get better ability to water bomb from the air, and to get a stronger and  more and more skilled rescue service”, says Dan Eliasson, Director General of MSB, to Swedish Radio.

In addition, MSB wants to invest both in better coordination between rescue services and training in order to increase competence in forest fire fighting.

In total, the agency proposes training courses  at a cost of around 6 million Euros. MSB also wants to review further training for emergency services personnel, rescue management and training efforts to strengthen the personnel capacity in municipal emergency services.

The MSB states in the report that climate change increases the risk of forest fires.

The report must now be submitted to the Ministry of Justice.