Israel tightens cooperation with Cyprus in aerial firefighting

Representative of Cyprus fire and rescue services visits Israel, views aerial firefighting drill near Beit Shemesh

Date: 19/06/2012, 10:11 AM     Author: Shir Golan, IAF Website

Cooperation between Israel and Cyprus in the field of fire fighting is growing.

“After the Carmel fire disaster, we realized the best way to deal with such fires is to create partnerships with experienced countries in the region,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich said last December after a visit to Cyprus. “I recently returned from Cyprus and from their point of view they will aid us in the future with helicopters carrying water. We are also on the way to creating partnerships with additional countries.”

Now, a reciprocal visit has been made by a representative of the Cyprus fire and rescue services, Chief Markos Tragkolas, who arrived in Israel and visited the IAF’s aerial firefighting unit. Among other things, he watched a sortie in which two IAF Air Tractor firefighting aircraft practiced putting out a fire on agricultural land near Beit Shemesh in conjunction with firefighting forces from that city. 

“Several months ago, a mutual agreement was reached between Israel and Cyprus regarding cooperation in emergency situations involving firefighting and search and rescue,” said fire and rescue services representative Yoram Levy.

The two countries are currently talking about holding a joint exercise.

“We want to arrange training with Israel’s fire and rescue services, which perhaps will be held in the coming year,” said Chief Markos Tragkolas. “Cyprus has amongst the best aerial firefighting capabilities in the world. We have two planes and nine helicopters at our disposal. Cyprus is very close to Israel, a half an hour flying time, and therefore in the moment of truth we can respond quickly and help fight fires from the air.”