Captain Stelios Kotzikas, Chief Pilot of the Air Force Fire Fighting Unit of the Forestry Department of the Republic of Cyprus, paid tribute to a working relationship with the bases that dates back to 1983.
Speaking at the Akrotiri Environmental Center before giving a presentation on aerial firefighting, he also stressed the importance of having an aircraft permanently based at RAF Akrotiri since 2006.
He explains: “The cooperation between the RoC and Bases on fire began in 1983, when an RAF helicopter was dispatched to fight a fire in Cyprus.
“Since then, cooperation has improved and strengthened, covering mutual assistance between the two to fight the forest fires that break out in large numbers every year across the island. Common training is also provided.
“Since 2006, the Forestry Department flight unit has been operating from RAF Akrotiri to support the aircraft to fight fires in Limassol district.
“RAF Akrotiri takes care of the planes with fuel and ground support equipment and the control tower assists the planes on an operational level. “
He also highlighted the significant improvements made to RAF Akrotiri to support these efforts.
“In 2020, the Forestry Department’s flight unit implemented new, modern equipment to load planes with water, foam and retarder, making RAF Akrotiri an aircraft base- Fire fighting tanks which can be used by light and medium aircraft for aerial fire fighting, ”he said. .
“We also have two Air Tractor 8032F planes on standby, which means two planes at RAF Akrotiri, two in Larnaca and two helicopters in Paphos, often operate from Akrotiri to fight fires all over the island. “
And the presence of planes, he believes, is of enormous benefit to both the Republic of China and the areas of the sovereign base.
“All of these planes are a great asset to the SBA, because there is an agreement that if there is a fire within the SBA, they will take off immediately and fight the fires.
“RoC’s bases and fire departments work together on firefighting, life, livestock and property safeguarding and together they make a great team that serves people and the environment to the best of our ability. possible way. “
The presentation itself, attended by the public and officials from the Base Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) and helicopter crew from 84 Squadron, also provided advice on fire prevention. .
Dr Thomas Hadjikyriakou, who heads the Environmental Center, said: “Stelios is a highly trained firefighting pilot with extensive experience in Cyprus and abroad, including Israel and Greece.
“Despite his schedule to coordinate aerial firefighting efforts across the island, he was kind enough to prepare and give a presentation, explaining the usefulness and importance of using aerial means to detect and fighting forest and countryside fires.
“This presentation aims to educate the public about the prevention and control of fires, in households, the workplace, the countryside and forests. This is the third in a series alongside the Forestry Department and DFRS and more will follow.
The Forestry Department of the Republic of China also participated in an air parade with 84 Sqn at the annual garden reception, which guests from the Republic of Canada and bases were delighted to see.