The Greens and the FDP for the purchase of firefighting planes

BERLIN There are no publicly owned firefighting planes in Germany. If states and municipalities need aerial support in the event of vegetation fires, they are asking for administrative assistance so that the Bundeswehr or the federal police can send helicopters with water tanks. For example, last June, federal police reported that it dropped more than 235,000 liters of water in ten helicopters in Saxony and Brandenburg.

The North Rhine-Westphalia police aviation squadron is one of the few in Germany equipped with attached external cargo containers for extinguishing forest fires, informs the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (BBK) on request. But here too, if the helicopters were needed for police tasks, they could not be called in to put out the fires.

“The dry periods of the last few weeks, with numerous forest and forest fires, have clearly shown that we in Germany must be better prepared to fight fires,” says Carina Konrad, deputy chairman of the FDP parliamentary group. This is especially true of local fire brigades. Fast air support is also important.

When asked a few days ago, the Federal Ministry of the Interior stressed that the responsibility for fire protection and natural disasters rests with the federal states and municipalities. Therefore, they are responsible for providing the right concepts and resources. The federal government can help fight forest fires – for example, by helicopters from the federal police and the armed forces

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– support only “as far as possible”.

In Germany, responsibility for civil protection rests with the Länder. The federal government is responsible for civil protection – that is, protecting civilians in the event of war or tension. 18 BBK civil defense helicopters are made available to the Länder in peacetime and are primarily used to transport the sick and injured. They are not equipped to extinguish fires, even if in principle it would be possible.

“Insisting on responsibility does not do justice to an important task,” criticizes Konrad. It demands: “In the planned civil protection reform, the challenges posed by forest fires must also be taken into account by the Federal Minister of the Interior.” The structures of different levels of government need to be better networked, for example by standardizing training and technical equipment. The fact that the fire service is reliant on the administrative assistance of the Bundeswehr to extinguish fires from the air often costs valuable time.

This is confirmed by the chairman of the working group on forest fires in the German Fire Service Association, Ulrich Cimolino, who in an interview with the dpa in Düsseldorf said on Friday that it often happens that a piece of forest or a field is already on fire. over a large area, and yet for “hours” it was necessary to discuss the ordered helicopter. The processes here need to be improved.

As agreed in the coalition agreement, Germany should actively participate in the European firefighting fleet of rescEU planes and helicopters, demands Konrad. The fleet of this EU civil protection initiative currently consists of twelve firefighting aircraft and one helicopter. In urgent cases, they may also be made available to other Member States of the European Union. So far, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Croatia have participated in planes.

The coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP states: “We will develop nationwide prevention and control strategies and extend the possibilities of extinguishing forest fires on the ground and in the air, also under the rescEU mechanism.”

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, experts from the working group chaired by the Ministry of the Interior of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania spoke out against the purchase of planes and the use of helicopters to extinguish forest fires. Among other things, it is cheaper and helicopters also offer a wide variety of other possible applications. Eckert, a member of the Bundestag’s Green Party, said helicopters must not be dispensed with under any circumstances. Nevertheless, in his opinion, Germany should acquire one or two firefighting planes, which should be stationed in the north.

From there, it would not be far to the sea in the event of a major forest fire. Because one of the reasons BBK is opposed to the acquisition of such aircraft is that “there are not enough lakes in Germany where to draw water during a flyby”.

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