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FIRE FIGHTING PLANES ARE NEXT TO BE CUT

The Ministry of the environment has announced the decision not to renew a contract for the operation and maintenance of five CL-215 aircraft, the largest in the fleet of 22 “flying boats”, which are used for fire fighting duties.
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The Ministry of the environment has announced the decision not to renew a contract for the operation and maintenance of five CL-215 aircraft, the largest in the fleet of 22 “flying boats”, which are used for fire fighting duties.

However, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Federico Ramos, has denied that the move is a cost caving one, but is as a result of retiring older units to be replaced with the “latest and modern” equipment for fighting fires, “We are in a general scope of cuts, but in this particular case is not about cuts, it is a renewal of the fleet that has been misinterpreted”, he said.

According to the Ministry, it was decided not to renew the March the 31st contract, because the government is “on track to renew” its fleet of seaplanes in favour of apparatuses that are “more modern”, continuing that, “If there is one area in which our Ministry has made a special effort to keep the budget is around the fire extinguishing devices, since we know that we need them a lot”.

The Canadair CL-215, which has the nickname, “Scooper”, was the first model in a series of fire fighting amphibious aircraft built by Canadair, later to be continued by Bombardier, and is a twin-engine, high-wing aircraft, which is specifically designed to operate at low speeds, as well as in gusting winds, such are often the circumstances during the spread of forest fires, and is capable of landing and taking off from short, unpaved airstrips.

In August 2012, The Leader reported how the deaths of two people and the destruction of 600 hectares of pine forest at La Torre de les Maçanes, just north of Alicante, was being put down to budget cuts in the sector. Sources said that over the last four years the Consell has reduced grants to hire and employ people clearing forests and maintaining fire breaks by over 20 million euro. As well as detailing various aspects of cuts, we also said that in Alicante, four years ago the amount allocated to maintenance and new infrastructure for prevention of forest fires was 13.7 million euro, whereas in 2012 it had been slashed to just 4.7 million.

If the retirement of these aircraft is not a direct response to cuts, it would seem clear that the promise and commitment of maintaining budgets is simply untrue, but as the Valencia region is already on high alert for forest fires, there is also no indication as of yet as to when the “new” equipment might be available as the contract for the existing aircraft has already expired.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/38725/

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