Uri fire brigade called for – In the future there will be more fires in the forest – not without consequences – News
Long periods of drought and human inattentiveness: The risk of forest fires is increasing and is a challenge for the fire brigade and foresters.
Where can we fetch extinguishing water the quickest? How wide does the forest aisle have to be to stop the fire from spreading? And: Where are there possible landing sites for helicopters? These are questions that local fire brigades and authorities will have to ask themselves more often in the future. Because: In Switzerland, the risk of forest fires is constantly increasing and is a challenge for those responsible. The main reasons are the climate change with longer periods of heat and dry periods and the increasing number of people looking for relaxation in the forest.
Emergency plan and joint exercise
In the canton of Uri, people want to be better prepared for such situations. The fire brigades, the canton and the municipalities are currently developing an emergency plan. At the weekend, a joint exercise was carried out for the first time.
“A forest fire is not a routine task for the fire brigade,” says Uri fire brigade inspector Stefan Dahinden. Slopes that are difficult to walk on in combination with poorly developed areas are a challenge for the assistants. In addition: “In the event of a forest fire, we not only have to extinguish the fire, but also set up stop lines so that the fire doesn’t eat its way through the forest,” emphasizes Dahinden.
problem increasing in the north
In the southern cantons such as Valais and Ticino, fighting forest fires has long been a priority. But there have also been forest fires north of the Gotthard in recent years.
In the canton of Uri, for example, an electric shock sparked a fire above Göschenen three years ago. This shows that close cooperation between the fire brigade, foresters and community is key. “Fire brigades are specialists in firefighting, foresters and their employees know their steep and often inaccessible forests very well,” says Roland Wüthrich, head of the Uri Office for Forestry and Hunting. “By intensifying the exchange, we want to strengthen the cooperation between the fire brigade and forestry.”
As the forest fire statistics show, more than half of the forest fires are caused by human carelessness. Not every forest is equally vulnerable. Mixed deciduous forest, for example, burns less easily than coniferous forest, which poses a greater risk of fire due to the lower soil moisture and the resins and oils present in the coniferous wood.
Conifers burn more easily
In the canton of Uri, around 20 percent of the forest is deciduous and 80 percent coniferous. Two thirds of the Uri Forest protect settlements and traffic routes from natural hazards such as avalanches, rockfalls, mudslides or floods.
From a financial point of view, it is worth saving the forest from fires.
This is another reason why Uri’s security director, Dimitri Moretti, is concerned about the development: “If the protective forest is violated, there are major security problems. From a financial point of view, it is worth protecting the forest from fires, because the protective effect of the forest is around twenty times cheaper than technical measures,” says Safety Director Dimitri Moretti.
80 people were involved in the first joint forest fire exercise. Organizer Roland Wüthrich is satisfied: “We were able to deal intensively and specifically with forest firefighting. And I’m confident that we are prepared to fight forest fires in the canton of Uri efficiently,” said the head of the Forest and Hunting Office.