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Sure sign of summer: Finland prepares for forest fire season

The season's first preventative forest fire reconnaissance flights are very likely to start over the weekend.

Reconnaissance flights are often carried out by members of local aviation clubs. Image: Birgitta Vuorela / Yle

Despite the relatively cool temperatures in Finland, the start of forest fire reconnaissance flights is sure a sign that summer is just around the corner.

Any time now, the first of such flights will begin taking off in the regions of Pirkanmaa, Satakunta and Southwest Finland, according to Mika Kurvinen, Senior Officer at the Rescue Services and Preparedness agency.

Reconnaissance flights are often carried out by members of local aviation clubs and when the Finnish Meteorological Institute's (FMI) forest and brush fire risk assessments (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reach or exceed 4.1 or 4.3, depending on the area, he explained.

"Those levels will be reached today or tomorrow," Kurvinen said on Friday.

According to weather forecasts, the reconnaissance flights may expand to more regions in southern areas of the country as early as this weekend, including Kymenlaakso and Kanta-Häme.

Forest fire detection flights are not expected in other areas just yet, as many are still covered in the remainder of this year's snow.

As preparations are being made for the coming forest and brush fire season, rescue services workers are also starting to conduct personnel and aircraft coordination exercises, Kurvinen explained.

The regular training drills ensure that cooperation in combating forest fires is both safe and effective.

"When planes are in the air and rescue services are on the ground, it is essential that we communicate correctly," he explained, noting that such efforts can be particularly difficult in remote areas.