Polish firemen will help to fight forest fires in Sweden

Firefighters from the central city of Poznań are seen before the departure for Sweden. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk

A group of almost 140 Polish firefighters who will help to put out forest fires in central Sweden will leave for Sweden on Saturday, accompanied by 44 rescue and fire fighting vehicles, the PM's office announced on Friday.

The Polish firemen will travel by ferry from Świnoujście in northwestern Poland to Malmo, from where they will continue to their designated place of action - Sveg in central Sweden. The mission is planned for a period of up to 14 days.

The extensive fires result from a heat wave that the whole of Scandinavia has been affected by for the last several days. Many parts of Sweden have seen their driest weather in the May to mid-July period since records began in the 19th century, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said, and there are few signs of the drought coming to an end.

According to the statement, the expedition to Sweden is a response to an official request by the Swedish authorities for rescue support in the fight against forest fires, made under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is an international rescue aid system supervised and organized by the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) of the European Commission. The system is intended to support countries that have been affected by a disaster requiring an international rescue intervention.

The Mechanism currently uses specialized rescue teams from all 28 EU Member States in addition to Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.