Forest Fires in Bordeaux: European Community Supports French Fire Brigade

People ♦ Published: August 17, 2022; 07:56 ♦ (Vindobona)

Devastating forest fires keep France at bay. After it seemed impossible to cope with the disaster on its own, the European Community was asked to help. Many states helped, including Austria.

For days, persistently strong forest fires have kept the country of France at bay. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann, United States Forest Service, USDA. Some additional editing by W.carter., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The situation in France is tense. For days, persistently strong forest fires have kept the country at bay. Recently, the situation came to a head, forcing thousands of civilians in southern France to leave their homes as a precaution. A total of 1,200 hectares of land have already fallen victim to the devastating fire and more are on the way.

The French authorities have already evacuated more than 6,000 people from the endangered regions around Bordeaux. Due to the current situation and the predicted persistently high temperatures, the French civil protection authorities activated the Union Mechanism (UCPM) on 9 August 2022 and sent a request for assistance to participating states, asking them to send specialised personnel and material to put an end to the devastating fires.

Several states offered assistance, including Austria. The Austrian Ministry of the Interior, as the competent authority for international disaster relief, responded to the request for assistance and contacted the provincial fire brigade associations in Austria that are eligible for such missions.

The Lower Austrian fire brigade association immediately made an offer of assistance to France, which was gratefully accepted.On the evening of 11 August 2022, the first part of the unit of the Lower Austrian Fire Brigade Association was transferred to the Bordeaux area, the second part followed on 12 August.

A total of 76 emergency personnel are now helping in France. Part of the unit and equipment was transferred by land, the larger part of the team by air. The planned duration of the Austrian helpers' deployment is several days.

"Our firefighting comrades are supporting our French neighbours on the ground. This summer of drought has the whole of Europe in its clutches. We have to prepare ourselves better and better for the consequences of this drought and climate change. It gives a feeling of security to know that our fire brigade is ready to help at any time," emphasised Stephan Pernkopf, Deputy Governor of Lower Austria.

Pernkopf further said, referring to a fire disaster in Austria: "The flaming disaster in the forests near Bordeaux brings back memories of Austria's largest forest fire in Hirschwang an der Rax in autumn last year: the fear and hope for the right weather and a safe firefighting operation by the firefighters. At that time 115 hectares of forest were affected in our country, in France it's about more than 6,000 hectares - that's an inferno."

In addition to Austria, numerous other countries also helped to fight the forest fires. Poland, Greece, Sweden, Italy, Germany and Romania, among others, sent aid to France, which gratefully accepted it.

BMI - Ministry of the Interior - Bundesministerium fuer Inneres

French Embassy in Vienna