Fire chief suggests national wildfire control supervisor
Fires in nature preserves are a growing problem, exacerbated by climate change. In light of this, one fire chief told NRC there needs to be a person responsible for national wildfire control.
"If I want to start a campsite next to a chemical company, that is not allowed," said Anton Slofstra, commander of the Gelderland-Midden fire brigade region and portfolio holder for wildfires at the Netherlands Fire Brigade. "If I want to start that same campsite in the middle of a nature reserve with only one escape route, nothing stands in my way in terms of fire safety regulations.”
Fires raged on Friday in dunes, forests and nature preserves in several locations across the country. The fire brigade warned that the current drought meant less water to fight these fires. The Netherlands is also experiencing its first heat wave in two years.
But Slofstra believes that, beyond these immediate issues, a long-term plan is needed. “We are now making choices for the coming decades, sometimes even a hundred years," he told NRC.
National authorities already exist for other major risks, such as flooding. Slofstra pointed out that while buildings have fire safety regulations in place, many natural areas where people congregate do not. A wildfire authority could establish these rules.