In Lozère, everything is ready to fight against forest fires, prevent them and limit their impact

In Lozère, everything is ready to fight against forest fires, prevent them and limit their impact

Lutter contre les feux de forêt, un travail d’équipe qui mobilise plusieurs services de l’État, aux côtés des sapeurs-pompiers de Lozère. MIDI LIBRE – STEPHANIE BOULOIR

Several state services are mobilized for the summer forest surveillance campaign, in support of the action of the Lozère firefighters, in order to fight against fires.

All the players in the fight against forest fires in Lozère are ready for the summer. The Prefecture, the Departmental Directorate of Territories, the National Forestry Office, the French Biodiversity Office, the Cévennes National Park, the gendarmerie, and of course the firefighters, it's a whole chain that is working to limit fires and their environmental, economic, and even human impact as much as possible.

Sub-prefect Valérie Fuscien points out that in Lozère, 1,534 hectares burned in 2022, in 67 fires. Much more than the average for the last twenty years: 338 hectares. The national trend has been the same, leading to “a renewed mobilization of public authorities“. The law of July 10, 2023 strengthens prevention and resources. In Lozère, for example, a fourth patrol has been created, which will cover Villefort and Pied-de-Borne or the Sauveterre causse depending on the risks.

Always remember good practices

Whether ONF, OFB or PNC agents, everyone who walks the forest every day insists on prevention. "We must always remember good practices, explains Fabien Brochiero, head of the DFCI division (defense of forests against fires) of the ONF& nbsp;for Hérault, Gard and Lozère: do not smoke in the forest, do not light fires, barbecues, postpone risky work&hellip ; 90% of fires are of human origin. And more than half are accidental."

"There has been an awareness since 2022, we encounter less and less risky behavior, admits Lisa Bescond , for the NFB. But cigarettes remain a big subject." Valérie Quillard, for the PNC, explains that the guards identify and camouflage fire pits, for example, so as not to encourage subsequent bivouacs to use them.

But often, the danger is not perceived. "People think that if they are far from the trees, cigarettes are not a danger. Whereas fire can spread through short grass. Or people in camper vans do not see the risk of their small barbecue placed next to their vehicle", quotes Valérie Guillard. For the summer, the PNC has recruited seven officers to raise awareness. The various stakeholders will also carry out joint fire police actions.

Heavy fines, even prison

The gendarmerie received reinforcements from twelve reservists in the summer. The most monitored areas are the Tarn gorges and the causses. In the event of an accidental fire caused by by an infraction, the person responsible risks a fine of a few hundred euros; this can go up to ’à a heavy fine or even prison depending on the consequences of the fire. In the event of intentional fire, it is a criminal act, punishable by a prison sentence, in addition to financial sanctions.

The increase in surveillance allows firefighters "to intervene as quickly as possible, in order to limit the scale of fires", summarizes Colonel Frédéric Lhomme, director of the departmental fire and rescue service. During periods of risk, means of control are pre-positioned in the most exposed sectors. And air assets can intervene in less than ten minutes.

Don't be surprised

The summer campaign will be activated in a few days. "The start of the season is calm. It’s a period of respite for the forest. The water content of plants is very high", relates Fabien Brochiero. Samples have been taken every Tuesday for the past two weeks ; Météo France uses them to calculate the fire risk. However, warns Frédéric Lhomme, "we must not let our guard down. There are areas where the drought is more advanced. Don't let yourself be surprised."

Everyone is already on alert. In the heart of summer, they will remain in contact, in order to act in a coordinated manner for optimal efficiency. On the program, an audio conference every evening, and a weekly report.

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