International Firefighting Exercise Taking Place on Cres island

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 9, 2019 – A European Union firefighting exercise, Modex Cres 2019, is being held on the northern Adriatic island of Cres on April 7-10, and a part of the exercise, involving about 300 firefighters from a dozen EU countries and designed to demonstrate joint action by international forces, was presented to reporters on Monday.

This is the first EU exercise focusing on wildfires and it is part of the EU project “Romex” and of activities of the EU Mechanism of Civil Protection, which are designed to promote cooperation between member-states in cases of large-scale natural disasters and technological and environmental emergencies.

Of 34 member-countries, about a dozen are involved in the exercise in Cres, with firefighters from Croatia, Greece, Spain, France, Austria, Romania, Italy and Bulgaria participating directly.

The purpose of the firefighting exercise on Cres, to last without interruption for 52 hours, is to show whether Europe is prepared for big wildfires as recent ones in Sweden and Greece.

The emphasis of the exercise is not on technical capacity but on strategy, planning, tactics, operation efficiency, cooperation, orientation in unfamiliar terrain and flexibility.

The exercise is also part of a pilot project for advanced regional cooperation in extraordinary civilian situations, co-financed with funds from NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme.

Preparations for the exercise were carried out by the Croatian Firefighting Association, in cooperation with the Romanian consortium CN APELL and the town of Cres.

The participating firefighters are using the Next-Generation Incident Command System, an advanced information system for the management of crisis situations, developed by the US Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate.

After the exercise was demonstrated, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides thanked Croatia for hosting the exercise, which he described as excellent, pointing to the importance of readiness and solidarity.

Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said that Croatia had not been chosen to host the exercise by chance.

We have shown that we are among the very best, we are demonstrating solidarity and expect it when needed, Božinović said, adding that as part of a transitional mechanism Croatia would make available, for use outside of its borders, two firefighting planes and two police helicopters.

That means that we will get from the EU funds to cover 75% of the cost of our assistance, including maintenance, fuel and other costs, in the amount of around 2 million euros, Božinović said, adding that Croatia had helped before as well but that it had covered the cost of its assistance from its own budget.

He stressed that wildfires no longer affected only the south of Europe and that close to 5,000 Europeans were killed in natural disasters in the last five years. There were 138 major natural disasters, with losses amounting to more than EUR 20 billion, he said, adding that protection and rescue funds would be higher in the next multiannual framework, in excess of 1.3 billion kuna.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli, who also attended the demonstration, said that security was one of the most important reasons why tourists visited Croatia and that it was important to show them that Croatia was part of a big European security basin.

National firefighting commander Slavko Tucaković said that more than 600 participants were accredited for the exercise, that the EU had financed the project with 45,000 euro and that it involved all homeland security components – firefighters from five Croatian counties, Air Force members, members of the Red Cross and others.

More news about firefighting in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.


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