Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center

Helicopter Mi-8 extinguishes fires in Serbia

Unfortunately, the forecasts of the Serbian meteorological service were correct, the whole country was under extremely hot air frontier. That caused large-scale fires in nature.

Specialists of the Emergency Management Sector foresaw this threat. Forces and resources were mobilized in advance, including helicopters available to the Serbian Ministry of Interior. These mobile and operational forces are effective but not for so huge fires. It was decided to turn to the recent past experience, in the light of the implementation of the Russian-Serbian intergovernmental agreement about cooperation in the field of humanitarian emergency response from October 20th 2009. IL-76, Be-200 and Ka-32 were already present at the Nis airfield in 2012 and 2014. In addition, RSHC (the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center) is actively working in Nis, the Center’s task is to participate in such joint actions.

Proceeding from this, the Emergency Management Sector leadership made a request for a Russian MI-8, which would become a powerful tool in the fight against fires thanks to its capacity (up to 5 tons of water). The requested Russian EMERCOM MI-8 is equipped with everything necessary to eliminate natural disasters.

The Emergency Management Sector is the headquarters, where all information is collected and analyzed, where decisions are made and priority areas identified.

MI-8 arrived in Nis at 10 pm on August 2nd after almost 24-hours flight from Moscow. The maintenance of equipment and solving out organizational issues took place next day. The working sessions of the Russian and Serbian pilots were conducted at RSHC, with the participation of the Emergency Management Sector representative (the head of Nis department Srdjan Mitrovic), the Center’s leadership and staff. RSHC confirmed its readiness to connect to the operation by its own resources, and if necessary, by personnel.

MI-8 firefight work is a complex operation that requires preparation and coordination of air and ground resources.

On August 5th the Russian pilots together with their Serbian colleagues inspected area around Svrljig, but it was decided not to use MI-8 due to the relatively small size of fires and the possibilities for its elimination by ground forces.

On August 6th based on the information from headquarters, the helicopter flew to the southern Serbia, to the area of Bosilegrad municipality, where it localized forest fires near Gornja Ljubata.

Performing this task, the helicopter was in the air for 3 hours and made 3 water intakes from Lisinsko Lake, with a total volume of 8 tons of water. The spillways were made; dozen hectares of forest and property in the area with a population of more than a thousand inhabitants were saved from flames. Despite the fact that daytime temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, the experience of the Russian team and team work with the Serbian colleagues made it possible to localize fires quickly.

The work of the crew was ensured by the representative of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center (the translator).

Upon returning to Nis, MI-8 commander Vladimir Seryshev said: “The mountainous terrain is difficult to access, large areas were burning, it was necessary to work from a small height. I'm sure that MI-8 is the most convenient on this terrain. I believe that using this helicopter will help to reduce the risk of new fires and will be an effective tool in the fight against fires ... Today we managed to demonstrate this in practice...“

The next working day is the 7th of August. Belgrade will identify the troubled areas, and the helicopter will fly.

Good luck, firefighters of the Russia and the Serbia!