Temperature anomalies in Sweden and parts of Northern Europe summer 2018. Photo: Wikipedia
18 Sep 2018

Swedish authorities evaluate the catastropic wildfires last summer - new national plan for rapid size up and more self reliance from EU


Larger national depots of extinguishing equipment, an agreement to secure the availability of helicopters, and more resources to coordinate help from abroad. That´s how Sweden wants to up their preparedness for next year´s fire season.

The Swedish government is currently receiving a draft list of urgent measures necessary to  introduce in order to cope with the threat of possible new major forest fires next year.

During the extensive forest fires this summer, Sweden received EU support and support through the Nordic emergency services cooperation, Nordred. Italy, France and Portugal sent water bomber aircraft for fire fighting.

Germany, Norway and Lithuania contributed helicopter resources.

Denmark, Finland, France and Poland assisted with firefighters and equipment.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency / MSB)  has now submitted proposals to the government, and they are one of several analyzes made after the fires.

In a survey, the Authority for Social Protection and Preparedness (MSB), provided answers to the question which resources should be strengthened to prevent possible forest fire losses of the same extent as this past summer, should weather / fire conditions be similar next year.

MSB's proposals include more depots with fire hoses and other extinguishing equipment. Currently, there are 15 locations in the country, and MSB proposes seven additional places to be placed in "strategically suitable locations".

However, equally important is to be able to quickly re-fill the depots.

"We want to buy extra material  so that we have the items on hand and can immediately reload the depots," says Henrik Larsson at MSB.

The Authority also proposes that it enter into agreements with private companies that can enter and strengthen fire fighting from the air.

"We have looked into the situation in Norway, where the state has an agreement with the helicopter industry about basic resources and, if necessary, other resources. In this particular cooperation, the Norwegian state has fast access to 22 helicopters, says Henrik Larsson.

Private helicopter companies should be able to enter if the defense, Nordic or EU resources in the air are insufficient.

The current agreement with the EU to bring in water bombers form Italy and other southern European locations is no longer considered enough, according to Larsson:

"If we had we had been experiencing very large fires also in southern Europe this summer, the support from the EU would have been limited".

The national agreements on firefighting from the air will not replace municipal and regional agreements, but will rather be supplementing them:

- Hundreds of forest fires are handled at local level, and it can be seen as the normal procedure. Government agreements could be entered into when it starts to become very extensive fires. This would provide better endurance and coordination, "says Henrik Larsson.

On MSB's proposal list, there is also a temporary assignment to the largest rescue services to have staff ready to strengthen rescue management in other municipalities.

MSB also wants to see more resources to lead and support staff from other countries. All proposed measures are estimated at SEK 129 million. (About 15 million Euros)


Cover Photo: Temperature anomalies in Sweden and parts of Northern Europe summer 2018. Photo: Wikipedia