Sweden sends two water scooping aircraft to fight forest fires in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is one of the EU countries experiencing serious forest fires this year. This week they requested help via the EU civil protection cooperation system and resources from different countries have been sent in.
Late on Thursday evening, the EU asked Sweden to send the two water scooping aircraft that are on standby within the rescEU system to the area affected by fires in the Czech Republic. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) received this request and, during the night, an operation was planned and initiated which is now underway. Two aircraft with crew left Sweden early on Friday morning in order to begin firefighting in the Czech Republic as soon as possible.
EU joint resources provide an extra safety net
– One strength provided by EU cooperation is that we can use our collective resources and competences in an effective manner, that we cooperate and help each other, says Roger Gustafsson, Project Manager at the MSB Operations Department.
Last year Sweden supported Greece with water scoopers. In 2018, it was Sweden’s turn to receive support from a number of countries via this EU mechanism.
No country can cope with major forest fires completely on its own, perhaps this especially applies to countries that are not often seriously affected. Right now, fire risk is much higher in southern and central Europe than in the northern parts.
Good level of preparedness in Sweden ensured
The task of maintaining preparedness for dealing with forest fires in Sweden lies primarily with municipal rescue services. If necessary, additional support from MSB can be requested - for example the aircraft resources that are still in the country. At the moment, there are two water scooping aircraft and six helicopters on high alert to deal with forest fires in Sweden. If necessary, additional helicopters can be allocated.
– Whenever we receive an EU request for resources, we want to ensure good in- country preparedness levels continue in order to manage any risks we may encounter here. So this morning we reinforced preparedness by allocating two more helicopters, says project manager Roger Gustafsson.
Facts - this is what Sweden and MSB are providing
Two AT-802F Fireboss water scooping aircraft with crew have been made available to the Czech Republic through rescEU and the Civil Protection Mechanism. The aircraft has been purchased by MSB with the aim of forming a contingency resource that will function both in Sweden and within the EU.
Since 2020, these aircraft have been included in rescEU and thus form part of the extra protection network of EU resources that are financed jointly in Europe. For this resource to be held in readiness, the EU covers 90 percent of development and preparedness costs. Through MSB, Sweden hosts the resources, develops them and may use them nationally. In cases of EU interventions, the EU finances 75 percent of the operational costs and the recipient country, as a general rule, covers for the remaining 25 percent.
Sweden has been part of rescEU since its inception in 2019 and this is the second time that aircraft resources from Sweden have been activated for operations abroad. Through participation in international efforts, preparedness levels in-country are also developed as experience abroad returns to Sweden. A stronger Europe will be the result.
MSB is Sweden's point of contact for the EU civil protection mechanism. Consequently, the agency both receives requests and offers help to countries in need as well as, if necessary, requesting support for Sweden from other countries.