Üsküdar University Vocational School of Health Services Environmental Health – Emergency and Disaster Management Department Head Lecturer Tuğçe Yılmaz Karan evaluated forest fires and the precautions to be taken.
Forest fires have many causes.
Referring to the causes of forest fires, Karan said, “It starts with the combustion reaction of the herbaceous or thin combustible materials in the forest floor, which are called oxygen, temperature and fuel in the air, coming together at a certain rate. With the climate crisis in recent years, meteorological and climatic conditions such as rising temperatures, increased drought, and heat waves unfortunately increase the frequency of forest fires and the number of exposed regions. he said.
Forest fires cause environmental problems
Tuğçe Yılmaz Karan pointed out that forest fires not only have a deadly effect on natural life and wild animals, but also cause destruction of habitats and migration, and said:
“Forest fires not only damage forest areas, but also affect the production of forest products, but also affect the ecological balance by causing disasters such as erosion, mass loss, deterioration of water resources, air pollution, desertification, floods, landslides and avalanches. While forest fires cause the spread of toxic gases and fumes in the atmosphere by negatively affecting the air quality, global climate systems are affected due to the increase in carbon emissions as a result of this spread. The settlements near and around the forested areas are also affected by the fire, which causes people to lose their homes and affect their physical and mental health.
In addition to the fact that the settlements close to the forest are affected in forest fires, another important area is the risky places such as industrial establishments and power plants (thermal, nuclear, etc.) located near the forest. In such places containing flammable and explosive materials, in addition to the effects of fire, explosions and the spread of chemicals to the environment may occur. The damage that will occur on people and the environment due to the explosion, as well as the health effects of each chemical or radioactive substance, will cause the damage caused by the fire to increase exponentially.
Awareness studies should be carried out on forest fires in regions intertwined with the forest, and training should be given on what can be done before, during and after the fire. In addition, various facilities such as roads, energy transmission lines, garbage dumps, tourism facilities, mines in the forest must be inspected before the fire and the personnel in these areas must be trained.
In addition, new permissions to be given from forests must also be evaluated for fire risk, and high-risk facilities should not be allowed to forests or even their close areas. A treeless buffer area should be created between the forest and residences and facilities in the permitted facilities and existing settlement areas, and the vegetation or explosive/flammable materials that will increase the fire intensity in their gardens should be removed.
It is very important for citizens to act responsibly in forest fires. Awareness-raising activities should be carried out about the methods and fire extinguishing agents used to extinguish the fire, and citizens should also participate in these awareness-raising activities. It is very important to be able to make the first response during a fire. Sometimes it may take time for firefighters to reach the area where the fire broke out. For this reason, it is very important for the citizens to be able to make the first response to the fire until the fire extinguishers arrive. In order to be able to make the first response and prevent the spread of the fire, all the actions to be taken must be done correctly. In order to be able to take these right steps, awareness raising studies should be carried out and participation in these awareness raising activities should be ensured. he said.
It is important to provide correct information to response teams.
Noting that in the first stage of the fire, it is one of the first steps to be taken by the citizens to call the response teams and give information, Karan said:
“It is very important to call 112 to provide the exact coordinates of the place where the incident took place and the necessary information very clearly and properly so that the response team can arrive without delay. After this first step, the available resources should be used to extinguish the fire, if possible, until the crews arrive. While doing this, citizens should not endanger themselves and others. Anyone who has been exposed may experience problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, cough, phlegm, wheezing and difficulty breathing. In order to prevent or minimize these, it is very important to intervene with the mouth and nose closed. In addition, there are volunteers working in the fight against forest fires, and there is a regulation called the Regulation on Volunteers Working in Fighting Forest Fires. All articles related to this structure, which is based on volunteerism, are clearly written in the regulation. It is very important for our citizens to be informed about and participate in this structure, which is based on voluntarism.”
What to do in case of fire
Üsküdar University Vocational School of Health Services Environmental Health – Emergency and Disaster Management Department Head Lecturer Tuğçe Yılmaz Karan also touched upon what to do in the event of a fire and concluded her words as follows:
“Fire is one of the events that can be encountered at any time. Even in the safest areas, fires can occur in some cases. Therefore, it is necessary to always be cautious against fire. When it comes to fire, first of all, it should be calm and other people in the environment should be prevented from panicking. In the meantime, creating panic and scaring people can have very serious consequences. It is necessary to try to stop the progress of the fire by intervening with fire extinguishers. When faced with a fire, it is also very important to reach the area where the fire is progressing and wet these points.
The wet place has fire retardant properties and prevents the progression of the fire. The direction in which the fire will move can generally be calculated as the wind direction for open areas. Fire tubes, which provide early intervention in fires, are always of great importance. While large-scale fires are extinguished by fire services, if a well-equipped fire extinguisher is available, it is possible to get rid of major damage by doing extinguishing work without losing time in small fires.
The first response to the fire should be done by forest workers. However, intervention can be made by citizens who have received training until the teams arrive and volunteers who work in the fight against forest fires. Afterwards, forest workers and firefighters and volunteers working in the fight against forest fires should intervene in the fire.”