Russia’s Emergencies Ministry is planning to cut its firefighting personnel by 20 percent, or about 40,000 people, in the near future, a source close to the ministry said on Tuesday.
“The Russian Emergencies Ministry has been requested to prepare a draft decree stipulating cuts of personnel with special ranks by 20 percent by 2013,” the source said, elaborating that the reform would affect the Federal Firefighting Service, which currently has 220,000 personnel.
There has been no official confirmation of the report.
The reported cuts would come as part of an ongoing reform of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, which also included a reform of the ministry’s Civil Defense Forces, which were reinforced with firefighting units last year.
The mooted cuts would take place two years after devastating wildfires that swept across Russia in the summer of 2010, triggered by a record-breaking heat wave. The fires killed more than 50 people, destroyed thousands of houses, 2.6 million hectares of woods and a quarter of the country’s grain harvest.
Some 180 forest fires are currently raging in Russia, most of them in the Urals, in Siberia and in the Far East, covering some 26,300 hectares, the Russian forestry watchdog said on Tuesday.