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5 Aug 2014

Lukashenko urges to step up fire prevention efforts

MINSK, 5 August (BelTA) – There is a need to step up fire prevention efforts during this time of the abnormal heat wave, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting to discuss measures to ensure fire safety of forests, farmland and peat bogs, BelTA has learned.

The fire statistics show that the fire prevention measures are not as efficient as required, he said.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that the sweltering temperatures and prolonged lack of rain increase fire risks around the country. The fourth class fire alert has been declared in most parts of the country. Experts predict the fifth class.

As was reported to the head of state, today all relevant units of the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Armed Forces are on red alert. The supervisory bodies have conducted a set of preventive measures to ensure fire safety in agriculture. The central government and local authorities have prepared in advance for the fire danger period.

"Thank God we do not have the situations we see today in Russia, Ukraine and other neighboring countries where wildfires are raging. The countries have to attract thousands and thousands of people, to engage a lot of equipment to extinguish them," Alexander Lukashenko noted.

According to him, there were also cases when farm equipment, grain crops and stubbles caught on fire. "This must not happen," the head of state demanded. "These facts show that the fire prevention efforts raise some concern and not everything is as rosy as it is reported," he said.

Alexander Lukashenko believes substantial work is needed to strengthen the fire protection of fields, crop processing and storage facilities, forests, peatlands and others. Therefore, there is a need for objective analysis of the situation. It should be analyzed whether the emergency units are ready to respond to emerging threats. The head of state also inquired about the fire protection and rescue teams of the Armed Forces, and the forest protection units of the Forestry Ministry, Belarusian Railways and most importantly of the local authorities.

The meeting will also discuss the measures to be undertaken at all levels, from the national to the local level, to reduce the risk of the outbreak and spread of fires in forests, fields, recreation zones and personal properties.

“Every effort must be taken to make sure that the state system of emergency prevention and response can effectively address all natural and man-made emergency situations,” said the President. In his words, "most fires are caused by people.” Therefore it is necessary to take up measures to make sure people do not go to forests during this period. "It is just 7-10 days when people will be recommended to stay away from forests. But if they still go, they should not bring matches, lighters, cigarettes. We need tough control over these issues,” the head of state underlined.

"God forbid wildfires break out in our country. It will take huge money to put them out," the President warned. The meeting participants will teleconference with all regions of the country. "The governors are on the ground and can hear us. The responsibility for fire safety will be shared by all: national bodies of emergency situations, the Armed Forces, Forestry Ministry and local authorities. Much depends on things on the ground. We need unconditional implementation of the instructions that I am talking about and the measures that we will come up with in the course of this meeting,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

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