18:13, December 24, 2020

Evgeniy Zinichev: natural disasters don't decrease during pandemic

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On December 27, EMERCOM of Russia will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Created practically from scratch, the Russian rescue service has become one of the best in the world. With what results do rescuers celebrate the anniversary, why their motto "Prevention, Rescue, Help" does not lose its relevance, how people are rescued during the coronavirus pandemic and why emergency situations do not decrease, but the damage from them can be reduced, the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, General army Evgeniy Zinichev.

- Evgeniy Nikolaevich, the first rescuers of the EMERCOM of Russia were gambling enthusiasts who endlessly loved their work. And what are they - current rescuers?

- Rescuers nowadays have no difference in the passion and enthusiasm from the first rescuers. They are also ready to rush to help people anywhere in our country and outside the Russian Federation at any second.

However, today's rescuers are much more prepared to carry out tasks as intended.

For example, the rescuers of the responding units are versatile specialists. Each of them knows five-seven related professions: in fact, it is not just a rescuer, but also a specialist in gas equipment, a mine rescuer, a pyrotechnician, and so on.

Today, the EMERCOM system of Russia already has two certified teams according to the methodology of the International Consultative Group on Search and Rescue (INSARAG), and a third is being prepared. This speaks of high professionalism and recognition from foreign colleagues.

Rescuers, firefighters, dog handlers, psychologists, doctors, chemists, pyrotechnicians, divers, pilots - all our specialists work as a single team, work side by side and go through fire, water and "copper pipes" together. These are people who are united by risk, an inner need to come to the rescue, dedication and dedication to their work. They are on alert daily. Each of them is a link in an unbreakable chain.

- For 30 years the Emergencies Ministry has not had a single simple year. But 2020 was objectively a difficult year for everyone. Primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. How much did it complicate the work of your departments? Or is it just another emergency for you?

- I think we all had a hard time. Of course, the pandemic made its own adjustments, and we had to switch to duplicate teams of responding units and the management apparatus. Some of the office employees were transferred to a remote mode of work. But the EMERCOM of Russia continues to work to protect the population and economic facilities from emergencies.

Nature did not give us a discount on the pandemic. The fire season started earlier than usual. Wildfires broke out almost simultaneously in 63 regions. The most difficult situation developed on the territory of the Far Eastern, Siberian and Southern federal districts. As part of the remoteness, people went to summer cottages and took up household problems, burning dry garbage after winter.

The EMERCOM of Russia is entrusted with the task of protecting settlements and economic facilities from fire, which can pass from the forest. Extinguishing fires directly in forests is the responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal Forestry Agency, but we work together within the framework of the signed cooperation agreements. This year the Ministry of Emergency Situations actively helped Rosleskhoz and municipalities in extinguishing forest fires. And the joint work has shown results: the area of forest fires compared to last year has become much smaller.

- The Ministry of Emergency Situations itself actively participated in the work to counter the coronavirus. This is disinfection, and tent camps for foreign citizens who, due to closed borders, could not leave Russia, and the evacuation of citizens was.

- You have listed a number of the main measures that we have taken to counter the spread of coronavirus infection.

Units of the EMERCOM of Russia are still involved in the disinfection of socially significant facilities throughout the country. In total, on the territory of 80 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, special sanitation has been carried out for more than 5.6 thousand medical and about 8 thousand educational institutions, almost 22 thousand social service facilities, 45.5 thousand buildings and structures of transport infrastructure, almost 10 thousand km of roads and 180 thousand units of equipment.

In the period from May to October, with the participation of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, 19 temporary accommodation points were deployed for foreign citizens who, due to quarantine restrictions, were forced to stay in the border areas.

- Do you plan to change the plans for the development of the Ministry of Emergencies, the warning system, taking into account such threats, to revise the technical equipment, protective equipment, and so on?

- Taking into account the growing threats of a biological nature, we are re-equipping units of radiation chemical biological protection, rescue centers and specialized fire and rescue units with special equipment and equipment. We are also revising the nomenclature and volumes of reserves of material resources, increasing the volume of medical personal protective equipment.

- The coronavirus has affected all spheres of life in one way or another. According to your estimates and observations, the pandemic has not led to an increase in emergencies and fires?

This year, the number of emergencies in our country has grown by 29% compared to last year. At the same time, we managed to significantly reduce the number of injured and died, increasing the number of people rescued.

At the same time, when it comes to man-made fires, we can note a decrease in their number by 8.4%, deaths - by 7.5%, injured - by 13.3% compared to the same period last year.

I would not connect it in any way with a pandemic, life goes on as usual.

- You recently drew attention to the fact that the average long-term values for natural emergency situations are losing their former relevance due to anomalies and an increased frequency of dangerous natural phenomena. In such a situation, are such comparative values even necessary? And how do you plan to adjust this indicator?

Indeed, in recent decades, the world has seen a significant increase in natural anomalies.

When forecasting emergency situations, a multifactorial analysis of the incoming information is carried out, including deviations of various indicators from the average long-term values. Analysis of changes in such indicators helps us to develop more accurate forecasts of emergencies and models of their development. With their help, it is possible to minimize the number of victims and the scale of material damage.

We also actively use Earth remote sensing data and aerial photography by unmanned aerial vehicles to simulate a possible situation.

- And yet what kind of dangerous natural phenomena are increasing? Are these the consequences of climate change in the first place? And how does this affect the number of natural emergencies?

In recent years, a tendency towards an increase in the number of tornadoes, showers, hail and squalls has been more and more clearly observed. Also, the nature of the spring floods in certain regions of the country has changed to some extent, and there are more wildfires. Of course, this is influenced by climate change.

At the same time, we are faced with the fact that industrial communications and economic facilities, built several decades ago, no longer correspond to the prevailing climatic conditions. This is especially true of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, where the structures were built in accordance with building codes and regulations, adapted to the previous climatic conditions.

- Forecasting is a thankless task, but what natural emergencies can we expect next year? And how do you prepare for them?

- You are certainly right. Making predictions is not easy, especially when human destinies depend on it. But I want to say that we are not alone in this difficult work. There is the Unified State System for the Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations (RSChS), which consists of functional subsystems. These subsystems are formed by ministries and departments. Territorial subsystems are created by the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

In the framework of interagency cooperation with the Unified State System for the Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations, our ministry accumulates large volumes of information. At the National Crisis Management Center, this data is analyzed and used to build multi-layer digital models of the situation development.

To predict seasonal phenomena, experts constantly take into account the state of soil moisture, depth of snow cover, thickness of ice on water bodies, temperature regime and other factors. We receive some data in an automated manner. In addition, we have digitized more than 800 thousand passports of territories and objects, we use a large-scale digital cartographic base of the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr), and analyze information from the real estate cadastre. Proceeding from this, possible emergency situations are modeled with the formation of proposals and the procedure for actions for the executive authorities.

Already, work has been organized to identify risks in the flood-prone period and the fire-hazardous season of 2021.

Jointly with The Federal Water Resources Agency (Rosvodresursy), control over the filling of reservoirs in the winter period was established, the procedure for preparing for the passage of the spring flood was determined. Taking into account the temperature, the forecast periods of freeze-up are constructed, the deviations of the parameters from the average long-term values are determined.

And of course, the active use of modern technologies allows us to improve in this direction.

- In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the reduction of damage from emergency situations thanks to the work of the Russian Emergencies Ministry. Is it less emergency, or is the prevention work yielding results? And what is the Ministry of Emergency Situations planning to implement to develop the warning system? How does digitalization help you?

- As I said, the Russian Emergencies Ministry is actively introducing information technologies in forecasting and warning. Let me give you an example. In August-September of this year, cyclones and typhoons operated in the Far East. Thanks to preventive measures, it was possible to prevent the death of people. Damage and compensation payments were minimized. Prior to that, up to 6-8 billion rubles from the federal budget were allocated annually to compensate for damage from emergencies.

Our main task is to prevent emergencies. The Automated Information and Control System of the Unified State System for the Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations (RSChS has been adopted for service, within which digital maps are constantly updated, and the emergency development is being modeled. The Atlas of natural, man-made hazards and risks was created.

A space monitoring system is being developed, which makes it possible to quickly obtain data from remote sensing of the Earth. So, in Yakutia, a trial operation of a mobile receiving and transmitting complex was successfully carried out, which allows us to close the entire Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.

In order to inform the management bodies of the Unified State System for the Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations (RSChS), a mobile application "Thermal points" has been developed. We already have the opportunity to receive information on thermal anomalies throughout Russia up to four times a day from satellites. The information is promptly communicated to the senior officials of the constituent entities, local government bodies and owners of territories, who, in turn, take measures to prevent the spread of fire and timely extinguish fires. Simply put, the coordinates of the thermal point, its area, distance from settlements and the possible direction of development are determined. This reduces the decision-making time, increases the efficiency, the quality of data exchange between departments, and also improves the forecast of emergency situations.

This year, the mobile service has already managed to prevent a number of serious fires near populated areas. Out of 150 thousand thermal hot spots, over 46 thousand were in dangerously close proximity to settlements

- You have repeatedly spoken about the problem of untimely provision of information about emergency events. A recent case is the accident at the Norilsk TPP. How can this be eradicated once and for all?

- To solve this problem, a training program for the dispatching personnel of the EDDS of municipalities has been developed and approved. Who is the first to receive information about an emergency and organize an emergency response? - Unified Duty Dispatch Service (UDDS). It is the specialists of this service in the field, their skills and abilities that often depend on the preservation of material values, the state of the environment, and most importantly, human life and health. This circumstance determines the high importance of issues related to the development of UDDS. In addition, it is important that the owner of the facility, where the emergency occurred, does not hold back the relevant information.

- Since 2019, you have changed the accounting of fires and those killed in them. You can probably already draw conclusions. Are we burning less? What is the real dynamics of deaths from fires? And what are the main reasons? Is fire damage decreasing?

- You are right, we have changed approaches to statistical accounting of fires and their consequences in order to obtain real, "dry" statistical information. In addition, the approaches to accounting for injured and fatalities have been changed. A 30-day deadline has been set for counting those killed in the fire.

Earlier, according to statistics, from year to year the number of man-made fires decreased, but in the shadows remained such an indicator as ignition, the number of which was constantly increasing. On average, there were 2.5 times more fires per year than fires. But fire and rescue units also went to the sunbathing.

To date, all cases of uncontrolled combustion are counted as fires, which makes it possible to more adequately assess the state of fire safety in the country.

As I already said, the number of fires killed and injured decreased, but the damage from fires increased by more than 10.6%.

The main causes of fires remain careless handling of fire - almost 72% of all fires. Malfunction of electrical equipment and networks caused 11% of fires, violation of the rules for the design and operation of furnaces - about 6%.

Of course, the rules of conduct for people in everyday life cause concern, especially where large families live.

Over the past two years, over 400,000 autonomous smoke detectors have been installed in places where large families live. The operation of these systems helped to save more than 1200 people, including more than 600 children

We try to use all communicative methods of conveying information to people about the need to comply with fire safety requirements. We carry out raids, door-to-door rounds, and actively work through the media.

In total, over 115 thousand violations of fire safety requirements were eliminated in the residential sector in 2020.

- Several years ago there was a problem of lack of staff and fire supervision, and fire departments. Did you manage to solve it?

- Since 2019, the department has increased the staffing of state supervision bodies by more than 3 thousand specialists. Today their number is almost 13 thousand people. And this is not a thoughtless process; first of all, we are increasing the number of supervisory authorities in regions with the most difficult fire conditions. An additional 378 employees of the state supervision department were sent to these regions.

- I can't help but ask about the technical equipment of both firemen and rescuers. How are they re-equipped, what equipment do they need first of all? Are Russian manufacturers ready to provide the Emergencies Ministry with the necessary equipment?

- Today, about 20 Russian enterprises declare themselves as manufacturers of fire fighting equipment for various purposes. Over the past ten years, more than 100 modifications of fire trucks have been created, including more than 40 models of extended model range tank trucks on chassis of various types and classes. So domestic manufacturers are quite capable of meeting the requests of the Russian Emergencies Ministry.

We are closely monitoring the market for finished products and promising developments in order to apply them in practical work. Of course, these are both modern models of equipment for units, expanding their capabilities, and new pumping and hose systems that allow to extinguish large-scale fires.

Another question is that the EMERCOM of Russia, as a consumer, is interested in the unification of fire and rescue equipment in service. A wide range of products leads to an increase in the cost of maintenance and repair. To date, work is underway to switch to direct contracts with key equipment manufacturers, such as Kamaz and Ural. Upon its completion, by increasing the volume of the order, uniform regulations for maintenance and repair work, we plan to reduce the cost of purchasing and maintaining one unit of products.

- Does the Russian Emergencies Ministry plan to purchase new aircraft, in particular, the upgraded Il-76 and Be-200 aircraft? Is there a problem of obsolescence of the fleet and is there enough aircraft in general?

- Today, the EMERCOM of Russia aviation is armed with 82 aircraft. Of course, all this equipment requires timely maintenance, and somewhere, replacement. And thanks to the support of the President and the Government of the Russian Federation, we have developed specific directions for the technical re-equipment of the ministry.

At the same time, we have more and more new tasks. This includes covering the Arctic territories and ensuring the security of the Northern Sea Route. To this end, we, together with the Russian Ministry of Finance, are working on the issue of purchasing new Mi-38, Mi-8 helicopters, modernizing Be-200 aircraft and purchasing new aircraft.

Also, more than 370 unmanned aerial systems are actively used in the EMERCOM of Russia system. This year, 13 drones have been added to their fleet, which are transported on off-road vehicle chassis.

Until 2030, it is planned to supply a significant number of new aircraft to the aviation institutions of the Russian Emergencies Ministry and to adopt modern multifunctional unmanned aircraft systems of domestic production.

- The Ministry of Emergency Situations became practically the first ministry to switch to a risk-based approach, when each facility will be assigned an individual risk category, on which the frequency of inspections will depend. Are there any fears that at some point this will lead to an increase in fires, if conditionally the owner knows that no one will come to him for three or four years with a check? And are there any plans to transfer the supervision of facilities to an online format, when the inspector will be able to track in real time that everything is not in order at his supervised facility?

We have created a new and, so to speak, flexible model of fire risk management. It will allow to determine the risk category and frequency of inspections individually for each facility.

This takes into account the fire condition of the object and the conscientiousness of the owner. The risk category of an object and, accordingly, the frequency of inspections depends on the severity of the potential negative consequences of a fire. For example, scheduled inspections of protected facilities classified as low risk are not carried out.

By increasing the level of fire protection of facilities, owners can independently influence the frequency of scheduled inspections and assess the legality of classifying buildings and structures into the appropriate risk category. For these purposes, the EMERCOM of Russia has developed an "online calculator", which will work on our website in January 2021.

As for the format of online checks, this approach requires significant material investments from the owners and, in our opinion, will not ensure the operability and serviceability of all systems, and this is the safety of people in the first place.

- The Emergencies Ministry began with rescuers, more often it was associated with the "Centrospas" Unit, which was the first to fly to all major disasters. How do you plan to develop Centrospas, the Leader center, and the Noginsk rescue center, taking into account the fact that over 30 years in Russia rescue teams have been created in all regions of the country.

- Indeed, such units as Centrospas, the Leader Center and the Noginsk Rescue Center are our pride. But I would like to note that at present, the entire spectrum of forces and means of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia is involved in the implementation of tasks to provide assistance to the civilians and protect the territories.

In the EMERCOM system of Russia, robotic, airborne and diving units have been created and are developing. And, as I said, we need to equip these responding units with modern equipment with high traffic, carrying capacity, maneuverability and reliability, taking into account the geographical features of the regions. And also pay special attention to the practical implementation of new effective methods of conducting emergency rescue operations.

And believe me, the personnel of the ministry are constantly improving their professionalism and their skills.

- What top-priority tasks do you set for the ministry employees for the coming years?

- The primary task of the Russian Emergencies Ministry is and will always be prevention, rescue, assistance. Therefore, in subsequent years, rescuers will improve their skills in order to more efficiently perform tasks as intended.

Interviewed by Tatiana Khan

Interview for TASS: https://tass.ru/interviews/10324617

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