AMED TIMES - Following the fire that claimed the lives of 15 people, Diyarbakır Municipality Co-Chairman Serra Bucak provided information on the state of the city's fire brigade.

On the night of 20 June, a fire broke out on the border between the Çınar district of Diyarbakır and the Mazıdağı district of Mardin, killing 15 people. The first reaction to the fire came from the Diyarbakır city administration. Residents' calls for helicopter intervention were only answered after the fire had been extinguished. Serra Bucak, who was elected co-chair of the Diyarbakır Municipality on 31 March, spoke about the current situation in the city and the state of the city's fire brigade. She explained that no investment had been made in the fire brigade during the trustee's eight-year term: "Our fire engines are at least 15 years old."

80 fire alarms per day

Bucak said that the fire service has received numerous fire alarms since 20 June. On 23 June alone, 284 fire alarms were reported. Bucak added: "In the following days, we received an average of about 80 fire alarms per day. Many of these are alarms due to field, stubble or lightning strikes. On 23 June, a fire broke out in a rocky and wooded area in the Ovabağ region of Karacağ. It could have been like the other fire, but it was quickly extinguished from the air with a helicopter."

In Diyarbakır, the fares for local transport were increased. In Diyarbakır, the fares for local transport were increased.

59 vehicles and 298 firefighters

Bucak said that it is not possible to cope with the intensity of the current situation: "This is very painful for us. The condition of the technical staff and inventory of the fire brigade that we have taken over is not promising. In a large metropolitan area like Diyarbakır, the fire brigade works with around 298 employees, whereas there should actually be over 500. We have 59 vehicles, but not all of them are ladder trucks. There are ambulances, ladder trucks and water tankers. We have multi-purpose rescue vehicles, and their total number is 59. The fact that the number of vehicles and personnel is so small means that we cannot respond adequately to large fires and such a large geographical area. We also have coordination centres and fire brigade units in the outer districts, including Çınar, Bismil and other outer districts, but we need to increase our numbers in the centre as well. There are serious deficits in the number of vehicles, inventory and high-quality protective clothing, gloves, helmets and radios for use against fires. The fire brigade was one of the first units we identified after receiving the mandate on 8 April. This is because it is directly linked to saving lives, with the responsibility to save lives and property quickly."

"There are two ladder trucks"

Bucak said that during the trustee's eight-year tenure, there has been no investment in the fire service, "We have fire trucks that are at least 15 years old. We have two ladder trucks. One is 50 metres long and the other is over 40 metres long. One of them is a fire engine that was donated from Germany in 2015 and the other was purchased earlier. If we look at the period between 2016 and 2024, no ladder trucks or other investments have been made. We see that 8 million 600 thousand TL was transferred from the 2022 budget of the Fire Department to another unit. We are currently experiencing serious shortages and deficiencies. The fires we experienced on 20 June have shown us that we urgently need to issue vehicle tenders and organise this summer with serious equipment support, from radios to clothing. We will begin our work."

"Declare the area a disaster zone"

Bucak emphasised that they have been in the region since the first moment of the fire on the border of Diyarbakır and Mardin, trying to heal the wounds in a coordinated manner: "We will continue to stand by our people in the future. We will not leave them alone. Many children live in the villages. Our children's commissions, associations that work with children and our social services department have started working together to provide psychosocial support. We will continue to be together and heal these wounds by building solidarity within the means of the community. However, this alone will not be enough. From day one, we have been calling for this place to be declared a disaster zone. A fund must be set up as soon as possible to compensate the farmers and people affected by the fire. Necessary payments and financial support must be made immediately after the damage has been assessed. As a community, we are ready to provide local support if needed," she said.

Kaynak: Mezopotamya Ajansı