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Government will have new "helpers" in fighting fires. 12 drones arrive on the ground in June

With the summer approaching, the surveillance of forest fires will be reinforced. The information was released this Monday by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Action, Joo Pedro Matos Fernandes, who guaranteed the acquisition of 12 drones with a 100 km steel radius. The equipment will be on the ground from the end of June.

The guarantee was given after the meeting of the Coordination Council of the Agency for the Integrated Management of Rural Fires (AGIF), chaired by Prime Minister Antnio Costa, in the Ajuda Palace, in Lisbon. In statements to journalists, the Minister explained that the surveillance actions will be reinforced with six teams with two drones each.

"These 12 drones will have a flight capacity between six and eight hours, with a 100km radius of action from the point where they are commanded", guaranteed Joo Pedro Matos Fernandes. Once they are on the ground, "they will be a great tool for surveillance" and "they may have a very important role", he considered.

When asked about the consequences of COVID-19 on how the security forces can act in fighting fires, Tiago Oliveira, president of AGIF, stressed the importance of reducing the number of fires in the most critical days, more than ever. "If there are fewer fires, the less need to mobilize resources," he explained. In view of the current pandemic, Tiago Oliveira said that, at the operational level, "there will have to be adaptations", adaptations that, however, should not harm the fight.

Seven thousand elements on the ground ready to fight forest fires

At the press conference, the Minister also guaranteed that "there is no indication that there may be a reduction in human resources to fight fires" as a result of the health crisis. In fact, seven thousand elements will be on the ground and will be coordinated by a single responsible entity, the GNR. "We are building a basis for all this surveillance to be carried out in an articulated manner, regardless of the different entities", he added.

Over the past few years, various solutions have been developed to help combat and prevent forest fires. Bee2FireDetection, for example, uses IBM's Watson technology to help detect fires. The design of the Portuguese company Compta also makes it possible to calculate the probability of fire, even before it occurs.