A team of researchers is urging citizens to prepare for action against wildfires

During the big firesthe authorities have priority save lives. However, since forest fires are becoming more and more violent, the emergency services of the firefighters and the extinguishing agents are no longer sufficient. To deal with such a situation, the Center for Desert Research (CIDE, CSIC-UV-GVA) participates in the European project fire riskwhose aim is to improve the fight against forest fires across Europe.

‘We need to work with the population to prepare people for these situations,’ explains the project coordinator and researcher at the University of Coimbra (Portugal). Domingo’s Xavier Viegas.

Most fires are caused by human activities and negligencebut they can be avoided by informing the population how impede Ignitions and how to behave when the Fire it has already been unleashed.

Faced with a climate scenario with an irregular distribution of precipitation and extreme temperatures that occur almost randomly, people must learn to make decisions quickly.

“Our message to the population is to save their lives, that’s the most important thing. These are fires that are spreading with such intensity that we cannot stop them with current technology. That’s why the Help may not come. It’s important to be aware of that,” emphasizes Viegas.

Some recommendations According to the project coordinator, measures in the vicinity of a forest fire consist of:

  • React fast: “When people are in a situation where a fire could be near or heading towards them, they need to make decisions quickly.”
  • escape immediately: “If they feel it is better to leave, they should leave with great anticipation and not wait until the last minute.”
  • seek shelter: “When flight is not an option, seeking refuge is imperative.”

Civic participation becomes even more important in the new reality of climate change. “There is a very irregular distribution of rainfall and the extreme temperatures occur almost randomly,” says the researcher.

FirEUrisk works with administrations to improve decision-making and information received by the public through tools such as the Europe Existing Vegetation Cover Fuels Map

“In the spring (in March and April) we now face more fires; fire season extends into late summer and even into fall (with fires burning through late September, October and sometimes even November),” Viegas points out. in one such a volatile situationconditions can change suddenly and make firefighting work more difficult. Experts therefore insist that the population must be prepared and know how to react in order to save lives.

Decision Making Tools

FirEUrisk works with authorities at local, national and European level improve decision making and the information the public obtains through scientific research and assessment tools fire hazard. An example is the development of a fuel card from the existing vegetation cover in Europe.

“Vegetation is the only factor that we can modify and change in any way”

Domingos Xavier Viegas, Project Coordinator

Of all the factors that play a role in the development and behavior of fires, “the vegetation is he only factor we can change and somehow change it,” says the project coordinator.

The map of Europe developed as part of the project offers researchers resources for understanding reaction to fire. In addition, it is useful for policy makers as it is a Strategic risk calculation Fire affecting not only the weather but also homes, people and infrastructure.

These tools are vital when you consider that dryness and the current extreme temperatures have produced the month hottest July previously recorded in the northern hemisphere.

“The lack of rain has led to a cumulative desiccation of vegetation,” says Viegas.

In Portugal, Spain and Greece, the current droughts are stressful. “The consequences of the fire were devastating: the fires have already engulfed Sicily, Sardinia and Rhodes, forcing thousands of people to rate these tourist destinations. These fires can very easily threaten people’s lives.”

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