Cyprus given drones to fight fires

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Cyprus’ firefighting capability was boosted by two state-of-the-art drones worth more than €40,000, donated by Hellenic Petroleum (EKO).

The two drones will help firefighters monitor and draw action plans for fires in remote mountain areas and uncompromising terrain.

The donation comes weeks after the deadly wildfire in the mountainous areas of Limassol and Larnaca earlier in July.

EKO CEO George Grigoras handed them over at the fire brigade’s headquarters in Lakatamia on Tuesday.

Grigoras said that the drones constitute “a modern solution in preventing and managing fires, so the country does not face another catastrophe of a similar scale”.

EKO will also cover the cost of training firefighters in using the drones to locate and alert the department in a timely manner.

The fire department’s acting director Polivios Hadjivasiliou said the drones would help upgrade the capability to respond to fires.

“Having our own state-of-the-art equipment, we can immediately have all the data from the front and save the lives of those at risk.”

In the recent deadly fire, the service had deployed drones borrowed from other government departments to help officers plan their response.

“Drones are essential supplies of every modern fire service with the capabilities of mapping and monitoring, from a distance, they provide, in real-time, necessary information and multiply the efficiency of firefighting operations,” said Hadjivasiliou.

The two drones donated by EKO are DJI Matrice 300 RTK models equipped with high-resolution cameras, including a radiometric thermal camera and a laser rangefinder.

According to the manufacturer, they can fly for up to 55 minutes, reaching an altitude of 7,000 metres and controlled from 15 kilometres away.

They can fly through dense smoke and collect valuable data for firefighters.

The radiometric thermal camera can also be put into operation at night to magnify and accurately present the critical data needed to reduce the extent of a disaster and to save lives.

The drones can be used in search and rescue missions after natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

The devastating wildfire, which started on 3 July, was the largest blaze in the island’s recent history.

It started in the Limassol village of Arakapas, claimed the lives of four Egyptian farmworkers, and burned more than 55 sq. km of forest land, 90 homes, and properties across the Limassol and Larnaca districts.