Monday, February 23, 2009

EU seeks to improve fire and disaster response

The European Union (EU) is exploring procedures to prevent and mitigate disasters by imploring their national governments to work more closely together and share disaster planning and response resources.

The European Commission is looking at better ways to deal with disasters that have the potential to cross international boundaries, such as earthquakes, hazardous material releases, and wildfires.

Talks about the creation and sharing of an EU disaster-response force have occurred occasionally since 2007 when the idea was first presented by the Greek government after a number of disastrous wildfires. Here is what we wrote about the subject on March 31, 2008.
The European Union (EU), comprised of 27 member states, has been considering since April of 2007 the development of a rapid reaction force that could respond quickly to wildland fires, floods, and other emergencies. The parliament even passed a resolution to that effect, but little has taken place to make it happen.

I recently talked with someone in the UK who told me that in the last 2 weeks, due to last summer's fires in Greece, the fire on the Greek island a couple of weeks ago, and the recent flooding in the UK, discussions along these lines have accelerated. In addition to other resources, they are considering a fleet of air tankers that could respond quickly to wildland fires in any of the 27 member states. The resources would be funded by the EU and is being advocated by the Directorate for Civil Protection.

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