Fires originate primarily near the railroad, the main road and settlements, as well as near resorts on the coast. Almost all fires that enter the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and the Land of the Leopard National Park originate in the multiple-use lands of the Bezverkhovo Municipality. For example, a large hill in the southeastern part of the reserve has lost its forest cover due to frequent fires originating from Bezverkhovo. Therefore, improved fire control here is essential not only to reduce ground fires in already-open grasslands, promoting their eventual restoration, but also to prevent further degradation of remaining forests. In 2011, we created a fire brigade responsible for fighting fires, identifying arsonists and creating new firebreaks in the Leopardovyi Wildlife Refuge (later Land of the Leopard National Park). This brigade is managed by Evgeny Stoma, the inspector of the National Park. We purchased a used van for patrolling and equipment for the team, including high-pressure air blowers, protective clothing, wireless communication equipment and other essential items. Every year brigade members is hired by Stoma and receive training.
In 2013, fire prevention measures started in the protected area in early February. A bulldozer started to do a new fire break along the railway. The works were finished only in the middle of April. A route of the fire break was chosen maximum close to the borders of the protected area (railway) so that the most vulnerable part of the forestland of the national park became well protected.
In spring, replacing an old vehicle, a new UAZ with more number of seats and better off-road capability was purchased.
In mid-March a fire-fighting team of volunteers was fully manned/ staffed, equipped and trained on fire-fighting methods, first aid treatment and work with communication devices. First, the team began working with local people informing them about the start of fire season and important fire safety rules. The volunteer fire fighters also told the villagers about responsibilities stipulated by law for use of open flame fires during the fire danger season on the territory of the protected area and gave people contact details so that they could report about ignitions. In March, the team members attended a training session organized by Greenpeace-Russia and shared their knowledge and experience on fire-fighting measures.
Every day the team went to patrol the assigned area early in the morning. Three to four team members surveyed the area for fires from high-elevation lookout posts while the other members patrolled in a minivan. The team members communicated using two-way radios (a fixed set in the van and hand-held sets for the outposts) as well as with cellular phones. The combination of observation from look-out posts and patrolling ensured that fires were spotted quickly and that fire-fighting started when fires were still small. The mini-van dropped off team members near fires that had been spotted and these team members usually managed to put out the fire quickly. If a fire was difficult to control, then additional team members were collected from look-out posts. During patrols the team regularly contacted a volunteer fire-fighting team operating in Slavyanka model area (a joint project with the Slavyanka Municipality and the Land of the Leopard National Park), shared information on the current fire situation and assisted each other to put out forest fires.
It is worth mentioning that during the reported period the team members worked well-coordinated. If we look at a satellite image above, we can see five areas where forest fires started simultaneously as a result of arsons by unknown people. Within an hour the team of volunteers arrived at the scene and, after a couple of hours, extinguished the fires. Thanks to the effective teamwork of the volunteers the fire was not let to spread over the borders of the protected area.
On April 16, the team assisted inspectors of the protected area to put out a fire started inside the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve.
All in all, during spring fire danger season the team extinguished 16 fires, including five on the protected area (along the railway) and 11 fires on the adjacent territories. On May 20, 2013 the fire season was officially over.
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