The body of forest rangers is at the gates after the amendment voted by the Parliament and includes the establishment of Special Units of Forest Enterprises and the recruitment of 500 forest firefighters aged 28 to 31 as the case may be. The 500 newly recruited forest commandos will be coordinated by 90 experienced members of the Fire Brigade who will come from the special forces of the Corps (EMAK, infantry divisions).
The forest rangers will be largely drawn from the seasonal firefighters’ pool, while their scoring criteria will be their experience in firefighting, quualification in parachuting in the Armed Forces, fulfilling their duties as a firefighter in special forces of the Armed Forces or in the Presidential Guard, and their training in the subject of forestry.
The Special Units of Forest Enterprises (EMODE) that will be established will be based in 6 cities of the country – specifically, Elefsina, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Crete, Lamia, Ioannina and Patras. Of the 90 coordinators / heads of forest firefighting operations, 15 will be located in each district where EMODE will be based. The teams will be airborne and each, which will operate in the forests, will consist of about 12 people.
This special body, which is expected to be ready in mid-June, will work in the forest, in cooperation with the foresters and with the scientific support of the foresters, while they will not only act during the crisis but throughout the year. Their mission will be to assist in forest protection projects to prevent fires, while they will be the vanguard in the forests supporting all firefighting operations, as they will be transported by helicopter and will descend to the point of fire.
They will also be involved in dealing with the consequences of natural, technological and other disasters. Their term will be seven years and out of the 500 organic positions that will be created, 440 will concern firefighting technical staff and 60 firefighting scientific staff, specializing in forestry, forestry.
The forest rangers will attend a 5-week training program by Corps officers, and in addition to the special know-how they will receive, they will be trained even in firefighting and firefighting tactics, which will be the last resort in case of need. It is worth noting that a special group has been set up on the issue of firefighting to examine the institutional framework, which will determine exactly how it will be done.
The initial plan of the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection foresaw the sending of corps officers to Washington to be trained and later to return to Greece to train the other members of the special task force, however due to the covid-19 pandemic these plans were overturned. the contacts made by ministry officials in the context of the Greece-US strategic dialogue. As an alternative, the possibility of sending trainers from the USA to Greece is being considered, however, if this is not possible, distance learning will take place.
Following the settlement of the issue of the country’s debt to the NSPA (NATO Support and Procurement Agency), totaling 8,457,481.64 euros, the way was opened for the lease of aircraft and a one-year contract was signed for the lease of aircraft in order to The country is ready for this year’s firefighting season, while from next year according to the data so far the contract with the NSPA will be three years with the possibility of extension for another 2 years.
According to the plan of the ministry, the air means that will be leased will be a total of 93. In particular, the plan includes, 53 forest firefighting aircraft, 35 forest firefighting helicopters, 3 air coordination helicopters, 1 personnel transport aircraft, 1 personnel transport helicopter. Of the aircraft, 20 will be Air-Tractors, (mini-canards), while last year it was 6.
It is noted that, for the second year this year, our country has in the program the lease of the Russian giant Beriev which will take place through the bilateral agreement between Greece and Russia. Among those on the charter are 10 heavy-duty helicopters (Erickson) and 12 medium-sized helicopters with buckets. Also, through rescEU, there is the intention to lease further helicopters (it is estimated that there will be 1 or 2) that will be stationed in Greece.
Special emphasis is also given to the volunteers as the intention of the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection is to upgrade their role and their organic connection with the Fire Brigade. In this context, in view of the launch of the Academy of Civil Protection in Vilia, which is estimated to be operational in March, volunteers will have the opportunity to attend special training programs and integrate into the training, receiving the appropriate certifications. The aim is for the volunteers to be more specialized, to be provided with more means and experience, but also to ensure in the best possible way the protection of their own lives in times of crisis.
In addition, the integration of volunteers in the Engage system (Event & Business Resource Management System), located in the Unified Coordination Center for Business and Crisis Management, is planned. This system shows in detail where fires have occurred and where each firefighting device is located. As part of the upgrade of the system itself, the volunteers will be integrated into Engage, so that in real time, while the events are in progress, the image of where their own forces are moving is given live.
In addition, from the summer, 200 European firefighters from different EU countries will be added to the Civil Protection staff, who will be rotated at regular intervals, as part of a pilot program that will be implemented in our country and fully funded by the European Civil Protection Mechanism. .
It is noted that the firefighting season begins on May 1.