The Czech National Park of Bohemian Switzerland is increasing its number of firefighters to combat the threat of forest fires. From August, two new firefighters will join the team, bringing the total number to eight. However, the park recognizes that this is insufficient and that more firefighters are needed. The area is still at risk of forest fires, as people continue to light fires in the middle of the woods or throw away cigarette butts.
The Minister of Environment, Petr Hladík, acknowledges that the current number of firefighters is insufficient and says he will try to raise the issue with the government and the Ministry of Finance for potential funding in the future. However, he also recognizes that finances are tight, and the budget is a limiting factor.
The additional firefighters will work day and night to detect potential fires and prevent them from spreading. The park will also employ a new staff member responsible for preventing fires from September. The park suffered from the most extensive forest fire in the Czech Republic almost a year ago.
The park has taken measures to reduce the risk of forest fires, including creating a so-called “semaphore,” which restricts visitor movement according to the current fire risk declared by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, the park has also rented helicopters to extinguish fires, equipped with bags capable of carrying 3,000 liters of water. The Ministry of Agriculture covers two-thirds of the cost, and the Ministry of Environment covers the remaining third. The government is considering providing this service through the Czech Army.
While the park’s budget is limited, protecting it and preventing forest fires from causing damage is vital. The park is beautiful, and visitors are slowly returning after last year’s fire. The park has installed three portable water tanks, each capable of holding 50,000 liters of water, repaired some water reservoirs, and removed a lot of dry wood from the park.
The forest fire last year destroyed an area of approximately 1000 hectares, and it took 6,000 firefighters to extinguish it. The police charged a man with general danger and damaging property concerning the fire. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison.