People, Environment

32 Helicopters Needed to Combat Forest Fires

32 Helicopters Needed to Combat Forest Fires32 Helicopters Needed to Combat Forest Fires

Iran needs around 32 helicopters to be able to tame wildfires before they get out of hand, according to a senior official at the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization.

Each year between 15,000 and 16,000 hectares of Iran’s forests are destroyed by wildfires, inflicting on average 3.2 trillion rials ($93 million) in direct environmental damage.

Many of the fires break out in inaccessible areas, which require aerial firefighting systems to be tackled immediately.

However, the FRWO, which is in charge of forest protection, is ill-equipped to deal with forest fires and does not have helicopters that are essential to combating large-scale fires.

“The organization currently cooperates with the Armed Forces, the Crisis Management Organization and the Iranian Red Crescent Society to use their equipment in the event of a disaster,” said Khodakaram Jalali, head of the organization, according to Mehr News Agency.

However, these helicopters are not designed for firefighting and not as efficient as the so-called helitankers. Common firefighting helicopters in the world are equipped with features such as tanks, foam cannons and snorkels for filling from natural or manmade water resources.  

Jalali added: “The firefighting fleet requires at least 32 helicopters, which means every province will have at least one chopper that can be dispatched to other regions, if need be.”

The official said a comprehensive plan for preventing and extinguishing wildfires has been prepared in which upgrading the firefighting systems has been envisioned.

Jalali, who is also a deputy agricultural jihad minister, hoped that the plan will be included in the next five-year development plan (2016-21).

He blamed negligent tourists and campers as well as careless farmers and shepherds for causing a majority of forest fires in Iran.

“The offenders will be sentenced to between two and 12 months imprisonment, plus financial reparation for the damage they cause,” he said.