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Aerial Firefighting Equipment Needed All Year Round


The president of the Regional Civil Protection Service of Madeira, Captain José Dias, today defended his views that the way forward in the fight against fires in the archipelago is the provision of an aerial firefighting capability, comprising a helicopter, support teams and equipment, throughout the year. Defending his decision he said “the POCIF (Implementation of the Operational Plan for Combating Forest Fires) helicopter has been a major asset since arriving in Madeira. I think that the path to be taken will be to expand its capacity and the duration of its availability. I think that, in a gradual and concerted way, there is a requirement for an aerial firefighting capability all year round.”

Captain José Dias said that the only difference from this year’s POCIF compared to 2019 is its extension until the 30th of November, partly as a result of lessons learned in previous years and the fact that the island experienced a very dry start to the year. 

The Initial Attack Helicopter (HEATI) was introduced in 2015 to assist in forest fire detection and prevention supported by sixteen dedicated firefighting teams plus another twelve ancillary teams including personnel from the PSP, GNR, Instituto das Florestas and Conservation of Nature, the Portuguese Armed Forces and the Portuguese Red Cross.

This year, the Government of Madeira has allocated one million euros towards the prevention of and fighting of fires, comprising 600 thousand euros for human resources and 400 thousand for the hiring of the helicopter.

Although not cheap, what price do you put on human life?

Samantha Gannon

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