Half of the aircraft available to France are today mobilized in Gironde, in aerial support for the fight against exceptional fires which have already ravaged more than 20,500 hectares there. Can this deployment of extraordinary resources deprive Occitanie of relief in the event of multiple or large-scale fires, when the Civil Security air base is located in Nîmes? The spokesperson for Civil Security, Commander Alexandre Jouassard, responds to L’Indépendant.
It has been five years since the Civil Security air fleet was transferred to the Nîmes-Garons base. 12 Canadairs, 7 Dash, 3 Beechcraft reconnaissance aircraft and 85 pilots are stationed there, ready to take off to intervene anywhere in France, or even abroad.
There is a capacity limit, obviously, we cannot send 10 Canadair everywhere
For several days, 6 of these 12 Canadairs and 3 of the 6 Dash have been in action in Gironde. And “two Canadairs minimum” are stationed at the advanced base of Ajaccio, indicates Commander Jouassard, spokesman for Civil Security at the Ministry of the Interior. Therefore, is there a risk of running out of resources during interventions in Occitania, for example? “The Gironde is like the South East region where you can also engage half of the Civil Security fleet on a fire, it has already happened, in the Var last year for example, he recalls. And if we use a lot of devices on a big fire, we anticipate by sending additional ground resources to regions at risk”. This is currently the case in Aude, Hérault and Bouches-du-Rhône, which benefit from 5 reinforcement columns, i.e. 280 firefighters from Île-de-France, the east and Rhône-Alpes. Nevertheless, Commander Jouassard recognizes it: “Yes, there is a capacity limit, of course”. “Today with 12 Canadair and 6 Dash, France has a substantial fleet but it has its limits, we cannot send 10 Canadair everywhere, he continues. So we are thinking about European civil security resources, Greece has sent 2 Canadairs to support us, and the idea of a European base takes its place.”. And it could be located in Nîmes.
The future European civil security base in Nîmes?
The chances are indeed great that the future European Civil Security Center of Excellence will be located in Occitania, in Nîmes. Seven countries of the Union: France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Sweden, Cyprus participate in the aptly named Nemausus program (the ancient name of Nîmes) whose objective is to create such a tool. “Discussions are well underway and the project could be completed in 2026-2027, confides Alexandre Jouassard. It could be in Nîmes, yes, it would be a big added value but the discussions are still ongoing”.
Yes it is worrying to have so many departments burning at the same time but if there is a country capable of intervening on several points, it is France
Pending the presence of devices from other European countries, the spokesperson for Civil Security understands the concerns: “Yes, it is worrying to have so many departments burning at the same time, it is not a very comfortable situation to have large fires in different regions but if there is a country which is capable of ‘intervening on several points is France, in particular thanks to the territorial network”.