Meeting to discuss measures to ensure fire safety of forests, farmlandand peat bogs

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There is a need to step up fire prevention efforts during this time of the abnormal heat wave, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting held on 5 August to discuss measures to ensure fire safety of forests, farmland and peat bogs.

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

Aleksandr 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," Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

In his words, 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.

Aleksandr 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,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

During the meeting, officials responsible for fire prevention efforts informed about the situation in the country in the context of sweltering temperatures and prolonged lack of rain. The governors and President’s Aides in the regions also took part in the discussion via teleconferencing. They reported on fire prevention efforts and the course of harvesting. According to them, the situation is under control, the emergencies services are on red alert. A ban on visiting forests has been introduced all over the country. The participants of the session also discussed some drawbacks in the effort to ensure fire safety. The head of state gave several instructions in this regard.

Aleksandr Lukashenko has warned everyone against violating fire safety rules during this time of the abnormal heat wave. “Convey my instructions at briefings today or tomorrow. Even if it rains, this will not mean that the situation is getting better. Focus on punishment for violating the rules, rather than awareness raising campaigns. People should pay a pretty penny if they decide to go to forests and, God forbid, make a fire in this dangerous period,” the President said.

“The most important task is to prevent the “I-don’t-care” attitude on the part of people,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The head of state told the State Secretary of the Security Council to inform him about major fires in the forests and farmland. He also instructed the General-Prosecutor’s Office, the State Control Committee and the Agriculture and Food Ministry to ramp up efforts to detect defects in fire prevention efforts.

Aleksandr Lukashenko deems it necessary to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, as decisions on fire prevention measures are made based on weather forecasts.

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an instruction to use all available tools to minimize the influence of anomalous heat and drought on agricultural crops. “The talks that we will not gather vegetables because of drought must be avoided. Belarus can cope with the watering of lands used for growing vegetables. It is not grain which is cultivated on millions of hectares. It is all about organization,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The President demanded to clean up and tidy up the lands around the leisure zones on the MinskoyeMoreLake.

The head of state noted he got personally familiar with the situation near the MinskoyeMoreLake. “It is a catastrophe,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“Today we should do everything we can. Car parks and places for swimming should be set up there, simple and comfortable to use. We discussed it thousands of times and nothing has been done,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President emphasized that today’s situation with cars that people leave close to water and sometimes even wash them has a negative impact on the environment. “I do not want to the things I saw some 3 or 4 days ago to happen in the future. We should roll up the sleeves and get down to work,” the head of state stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko cited Germany as an example of order. “A person there will never cross the line forbidden by the authorities,” the Belarusian leader said.