The territory of the Municipality of Rome presents one of the highest risk indexes of forest fires, due to its characteristics and agro-pastoral vastness.
The progressive destruction of the vegetation has remained constant, notwithstanding the efforts of environmentalist organisations (such as the Forest Rangers and public administrators).
The only factor that has allowed the statistical reduction of the surface devoured by fire is the massive urbanisation of the Agro Romano over the last 15 years. However, such process has lead to the practically complete loss of woods (with enormous ecological value), which had been identified in the 80s as ecosystems to be protected.
FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT
The Roman territory is perceived as particularly risky due to the following reasons:
1. High temperatures during the summertime, together with long drought periods
2. The Mediterranean scrub presents an extremely high degree of flammability
3. Most forests present deep damages provoked by antecedent (repeated) fires
4. Parks have become landfill sites, and often harbour abuse housing; this favours the proliferation of dry herbaceous vegetation, which very easily catches fire
5. Most of the land intended for agriculture has been abandoned, and is often stage of massive fires set by residents themselves, with the excuse of removing snakes and mice
6. Woods used for productive purposes are not too many, and have little value. Therefore, the owners merely give up cutting rights, without taking into consideration the consequences of such destruction
The most effective condition for locating a fire is still to this day the observation of smoke. Nonetheless, the presence of hills, slopes and buildings, frustrates such condition. The strict constraints on air mobility over Rome (due to airports, sensitive areas for safety reasons, cables…), further impede the functional and reliable observation of the region. Conclusively, operations centres may only rely on vague telephonic signalling of citizens. Moreover, the issue of urban and suburban mobility causes a massive slowdown in the evaluation of scope of the event.
In order to achieve effective results, fire-fighting forces should intervene within 15 minutes from the fire’s outbreak.
The contiguity of wooded areas with human dwellings compels those who intervene to mainly concentrate on the defence of people and of their goods.
Starting from the 80’s, Lazio’s regional legislation has brought into force a set of strict rules in matters of fire prevention, which state a series of duties and prohibitions. Nonetheless, there is no efficient correlation between the norms and their enforcement: their actuation is practically inexistent.
What Oikos proposes as a form of prevention is:
“Risk Patrol”: the identification of areas which present characteristics that favour the onset of fires.
Operations of “passive defense”, such as the removal of infesting vegetation, the creation of dirt sections, the reclamation of landfills
Activities of education and/or sanction
Supervision of risky areas
Intervention on the initial outbreaks