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Plans to test innovative forest fire detection system in Belarus, Ukraine

 GOMEL, 28 February (BelTA) – A new system for detecting fires in natural ecosystems will be tested by Belarusian and Ukrainian rescue workers during a joint exercise in April, BelTA learned from Alexander Merkulov, First Deputy Chief of the Gomel Oblast Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry.
A two-day seminar began in Gomel on 28 February within the framework of the project “Monitoring, forecasting, and firefighting in natural ecosystems in bordering territories” in anticipation of the international exercise. Responding to an emergency in ecosystems using modern technological solutions and software will be practiced in the Polesie state radiation and ecology reserve.
As part of the Eastern Partnership Initiative territorial cooperation program the project has brought together three organizations united by one priority – keeping people and territories near the border safe and protected from emergencies. Those are the Gomel Oblast Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry, the Kiev Oblast Department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, and the Polesie state radiation and ecology reserve. A fire tower fitted with video surveillance cameras and a radiation sensor will be erected in the radiation and ecology reserve as part of the project.
One of the cameras is a standard one, which records everything within a 15km radius. Another camera uses infrared sensors to operate in limited-visibility conditions such as fog, nighttime, and other kinds. A special device will analyze recordings and will alert the nearest fire station once a fire is detected. Human responders will be able to evaluate the situation remotely and decide what to do next.
The system’s effectiveness will be tested during the forthcoming exercise, which will bring together about 100 firefighters and rescue workers. The joint project will allow representatives of Belarusian and Ukrainian emergency services to faster respond to emergencies in territories near the border.
Alexander Merkulov said: “If a fire breaks out in an ecosystem, it can spread fast. Besides, detecting a fire source in the compulsory evacuation zone takes quite a lot of time.” In his words, the new system will be able to automatically detect fires and transfer information to control centers.
Sergei Savinsky, Deputy Chief of the Firefighting and Rescue Organization Department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, also spoke in positive terms about the experience being accumulated. He underlined that in addition to detecting fires fast and buying modern equipment, gear, and vehicles they also look into issues relating to crossing the border in the exclusion zone. In his opinion, the project’s implementation will only make interaction between the Belarusian and Ukrainian emergency services stronger.