The Forestry Department will be reinforced with three more firefighting aircraft, following a decision on Tuesday by the inter-ministerial committee that met at the Presidential Palace, to discuss the handling of fires and other extreme natural phenomena, such as floods.
The Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Andreas Gregoriou, said after the meeting that measures decided also include stricter penalties for fire-related incidents, reopening the Forestry College and enhancing the Civil Defence and the Crisis Management Centre.
The meeting, chaired by the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, was attended, among others, by the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, the Minister of Justice and Public Order, the Government Spokesman, the Director of the Forestry Department and Permanent Secretaries from the Ministries involved. Professor George Boustras, Special Advisor to the President of the Republic for Crisis Management and Civil Protection, also attended the meeting.
After the meeting, Gregoriou said that they discussed about finalizing the draft bills providing for stricter penalties, noting that these bills are expected to be passed and implemented from April 2024 onwards.
He added that it was also decided to reopen the forestry college to provide basic training to forestry officers and to train citizens, volunteers and local government officials in order to be able to assist in emergency situations.
He also stated that it was decided to upgrade the Civil Defence to a Civil Protection Service as well as to upgrade the Crisis Management Centre and 112, the emergency number.
As for the acquisition of additional flight assets he said that procedures have progressed and that tenders are expected to be launched within the next few weeks for the purchase of three more firefighting aircraft.