Vegetation fire specialists from the international aid organization @fire are helping to fight the forest fire in the rear of Saxon Switzerland. Around 80 @fire forces, some with international deployment experience, have been deployed to the German-Czech border over the past two weeks. They assisted with firefighting on the ground in difficult-to-access terrain and coordinated the use of up to 15 helicopters in fighting fires from the air.
Based on international training and experience, @fire has special forces specialized in Vegetationsbrandbekämpfung especially with hand tools. Since being requested by incident command on Monday evening, July 25, these highly mobile response teams (hand crews) have been supporting ground firefighting efforts in the particularly hard-to-reach areas of the incident area in a dedicated response section. Often the fire has eaten into the 20 to 40 centimeter thick humus layer. Smoking or smoldering spots must therefore be thoroughly and generously chopped up and extinguished. Fire pockets sometimes eat far under the supposedly unaffected area. Water is supplied largely by flown-in IBC containers or collapsible tanks and small portable fire pumps.
In addition, @fire’s AirOps specialists coordinate up to 15 helicopters in firefighting operations as the “Air” section command. In addition, coordinators will be deployed in an observation helicopter and on the ground to ensure safe, effective and efficient helicopter firefighting operations.
The deployment of the hand crew and AirOps specialists was completed on schedule Friday evening, Aug. 5. At this time, two @fire specialists are still on scene to conduct reconnaissance assignments for incident command and to brief firefighters on the hand crew operations section and our equipment, some of which has remained on scene.
Responders continue to fight pockets of embers on the ground in the area of operation with a high level of manpower and technical effort. About 600 firefighters, twelve helicopters and three water cannons are deployed daily. About 100 forces of the THW as well as relief organizations such as DRK, ASB and Johanniter are responsible for logistics and catering. Forces from the mountain rescue service and forestry also supported the emergency forces. The fire spread has so far been contained to approximately 150 hectares.
Due to the weather forecast for the next few days, the mission control does not expect an easing of the situation, according to the District Office of Saxon Switzerland-Osterzgebirge. It is still to be expected that there will be repeated flare-ups in the area of operation and that the associated fire-fighting measures will be very costly. The minor showers of the last few days had no noticeable effect on fire activity.
Operation instructions for supra-local units
The vegetation fire in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains / Saxon Switzerland poses special challenges to tactics, technology and emergency forces. Since @fire has been integrated into the measures since the beginning and has been able to gain experience, recommendations for the emergency services are passed on to the arriving supra-local units with a specialist recommendation: