The Agency for Integrated Management of Rural Fire (AGIF) considers that Portugal remains “very vulnerable to the risk of fire”, and there is “a long way to go” to change the behaviour of the populations and the planning.

“The country remains very vulnerable to the risk of fire because there is still a long way to go to change population behaviours (ignitions), spatial planning (exposure) and active management of forest and agricultural (fuel load) spaces. We must persevere in these areas over the next decade, “says AGIF in a response sent to Lusa.

On a day when the means of rural firefighting are strengthened, AGIF stresses that the reinforcement of operational resources “will always be insufficient in the days of extreme weather to reduce burned area, although more effective to save lives and goods” in the short term.

“Weather variability and climate change add uncertainty in an adverse context,” says the AGIF, which is in operation for the first time this year during the fire season.

Asked if the changes introduced in the fight against fire will be visible this year, the agency stresses that the change of context and the system is “not instantaneous”, producing the political measures, incentives and investments in the long term, between five to 10 years.

Of the use of fire in rural areas, 40% originated from extensive burning of vegetation, pastures and stubble elimination and 19% in burnings to eliminate leftovers from exploitation.

“We cannot forget that 85% of fires start within 500 meters of a settlement, it is human activity that causes accidents and 70% of the incidents result from poorly made fires, burnings and burns. “states AGIF.

AGIF participates in the Special Rural Fire Fighting Device (DECIR) this year, supporting in several areas of knowledge, namely in the assessment of danger, analysis of pyro-meteorology and fire behavior and risk management.

According to AGIF, this year’s 35 elements of this agency that constitute teams of integrated management of rural fires, made available to the command posts, at the request of the National Authority of Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC).

The agency also participates permanently in ANEPC’s Decision Support Nucleus for the Analysis of Rural Fires, supporting the strategic and operational decision before the fires and during the development of the occurrences, as well as in the preparation of the periodic strategic analysis.

It has been in operation since January and is chaired by Tiago Oliveira, currently has 11 sub-regional centers, with full coverage in the country.

AGIF, as a strategic coordination of the fire prevention and control system, has since January promoted the horizontal articulation of the main entities, namely the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forestry, ANEPC, Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere and GNR, at the level national, regional and supramunicipal.

The organization states that locations of risk and prevention and pre-suppression measures are identified, namely targeted awareness, patrolling, fuel management scheduling and recommendations for pre-positioning combat resources.