The serious budgetary cuts on all public services critically undermine the operational readiness of the Fire Brigade to combat wildfires.
As stated in Parliament by Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias, in theory, the Fire Brigade has 21 firefighting aircrafts available, of which three are out of order and cannot be repaired due to the ensuing high cost.
In addition, all five helicopters owned by the Brigade cannot fly, since flight licenses of the pilots have expired and their renewal is delayed for financial reasons. On top of all, the firefighting trucks operate in dangerous conditions, since their tires have not been changed since 2008 and the Fire Brigade seeks private donations in order to keep them maintained and running.
The wildest of this summer’s fires in Greece burnt woodland and economically important rural lands on the island of Chios. The disaster afflicted almost half of the production of mastic gum (Pistacia lentiscus), which has been identified by WWF as an economically important non-timber forest product that is subject to traditional and ecologically sustainable maquis woodland management methods. The Fire Brigade and hundreds of volunteer fire-fighters were not able to combat the flames that burnt for five consecutive days 14,589 hectares, almost 1/3 of the total area of the island.