Austria activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) on 29 October 2021, requesting assistance to fight the forest fire that had broken out in the region of Hirschwang in Lower Austria. The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre mobilized 2 Canadair CL-415 fire-fighting planes, based in Italy. The planes, part of the EU’s rescEU transition fleet, are already deployed in Austria.
In addition, Germany and Slovakia have offered firefighting helicopters via the UCPM. Both offers have been accepted and deployment is pending. The Copernicus Service has also been activated in support of the fire-fighting operations in Austria. The mapping products are available here.
Welcoming the rapid deployment of rescEU assets, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said: “With its prompt response to the Austrian request for assistance, the EU demonstrates again its full solidarity in facing the destructive forest fires. Support is on its way. I am grateful to the Member States that have already mobilised or have offered to mobilise fire-fighting assets. Our thoughts are with those affected, and with the fire fighters and other first responders. We stand ready to provide further assistance.”
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism strengthens cooperation between and among Member States and Participating States in the field of civil protection, with a view to improving prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. Through the Mechanism, the European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond.
When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the Mechanism. Once activated, the Mechanism coordinates assistance made available by its Participating States through spontaneous offers.
In addition, the EU has created the European Civil Protection Pool to have a critical number of readily available civil protection capacities allowing for a stronger and coherent collective response.
Should the emergency require additional, life-saving assistance, the rescEU reserve can be activated, as a last resort.
To date, all EU Member States participate in the Mechanism, as well as Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey. Since its inception in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to over 500 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.