EU Hires Fewer Firefighters, Faces Extra Wildfires Than Ever

An plane drops water as firefighters function throughout a wildfire in Vati village, on the Aegean Sea island of Rhodes, southeastern Greece, on July 25, 2023.
Photograph: Petros Giannakouris (AP)

Europe has been on hearth this summer season, however the variety of firefighters accessible to deal with blazes across the continent has been on the decline.

There have been slightly beneath 360,000 firefighters within the European Union final yr, a 2,800-person decline from the variety of firefighters in 2021, in line with a recent statement from the European Commerce Union Confederation (ETUC), citing data from Eurostat. Particularly susceptible nations like France noticed a 12% decline in firefighters accessible. The drop comes within the wake of southwestern France enduring an particularly devastating wildfire that prompted the evacuation of greater than 1,000 in September 2022. Portugal noticed a greater than 21% decline from 2021 and 2022.

Widespread cuts are going to turn into a “recipe for catastrophe,” Esther Lynch, ETUC’s common secretary mentioned in a assertion. Lynch argued that EU nations ought to be investing extra in its emergency response, particularly as local weather change creates circumstances for extra wildfires.

“It’s clear from these figures that funding is already inadequate, and I’m involved extra cuts may very well be on their means if the EU reintroduces austerity guidelines subsequent yr,” Lynch mentioned by way of the assertion. “It might imply nearly all of member states must make cuts on the very time the EU are asking them to extend funding within the struggle in opposition to local weather change.”

Europe has turn into drier and hotter over time because the local weather disaster fuels modifications in precipitation and raises average temperatures. A number of nations have seen file highs, even areas which might be imagined to be temperate. Alpe d’Huez, an Alpine ski resort that sits greater than 6,000 above sea degree noticed a file excessive of about 85 levels Fahrenheit (29.5 Celsius), in line with Météo-France, a nationwide meteorological service.

See firefighters work to extinguish fires all through Europe this summer season:

Need extra local weather and surroundings tales? Take a look at Earther’s guides to decarbonizing your home, divesting from fossil fuels, packing a disaster go bag, and overcoming climate dread. And don’t miss our protection of the latest IPCC climate report, the way forward for carbon dioxide removal, and the invasive bugs you should squash on sight.

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