Fire Fighting Cost Cuts
Despite the wildfires that spread across the Valencia region last summer a decision has been made by Spain’s Ministry of the environment not to actually renew the contracts on some fire fighting aircraft.
The CL-215’s are the largest fire fighting aircraft of the fleet of 22 in Alicante and are often referred to as the ‘flying boats’. They have become a popular sight when there are any wild fires as they can scoop up water from the sea and lakes and head off to tackle the fires head on.
Federico Ramos, the Secretary of State for the Environment has categorically denied that the non-renewal of the contract was a cost cutting exercise. He went on to explain that the decision was about ‘retiring’ old equipment in favour of newer modern equipment better equipped to fight the fires.
These planes are actually the Canadair CL-215 and have numerous nicknames like the ‘flying boat’ or the ‘scooper’. They were designed to fly at low speeds, capable of flying in strong gusting winds and can land and take-off from short and often unpaved strips.
Budget cuts for fighting fires in the Valencia / Alicante regions is a sore point, especially as the deaths of two people in 2012 during a fire at La Torre de les Maçanes, which desolated some 600 hectares, was put down to cutting costs.
Sources state that the budget allocated to the maintenance and new infrastructure for prevention of forest fires was 13.7 million euro, whereas in 2012 it had been slashed to just 4.7 million.
The debate continues…