Frédérique Michel / Photo credit: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP 06:16, June 11, 2023

Droughts multiply with the arrival of summer, a real challenge every year for firefighters who try to defend people and the environment against the risk of fire, while preserving water resources. The latter must then adapt.

Faced with the lack of water, firefighters must adapt by changing their methods and techniques of intervention. Extinguishing fires while conserving water, an almost impossible mission for firefighters. However, they make every effort to be as economical as possible while remaining efficient. Eric Grohin, general controller, heads the departmental fire and rescue service of the Var and explained to the microphone of Europe 1 the issues around water consumption.

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14,000 liters of water in 12 minutes

When a group of firefighters is taken into the forest to control a fire, an average of four trucks are mobilized. This represents a total of 14,000 liters of water, or "three months of consumption of a Frenchman". Eric Grohin said that these 14,000 liters of water were emptied in the space of 12 minutes. "And when you know that on a fire like Gonfaron, we have 80 groups approximately, you do the math. You see what it can be. Once we have passed, there is no drinking water in the village."

Solutions exist, but they require an evolution in the way we respond to forest fires. One of the solutions would be non-potable water supplies and then brought to the scene of the fire. "We are increasing the application of certain techniques which are tactical fire: the fact of lighting a fire within the fire that burns so that when the fire comes, there is no more fuel," he added. Firefighters are also interested in new, more water-efficient fire hoses that are increasingly used by their Spanish colleagues.