Gov't to aid wide-area partnerships among fire corps in disaster-hit municipalities

4 June 2017

In an effort to strengthen municipal disaster management systems, the Reconstruction Agency and Fukushima prefectural government are poised to assist wide-area partnerships among fire brigades in 12 cities, towns and villages where evacuation zones were declared following the 2011 nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The aid plans include the establishment of an expert group that will discuss ways to secure fire brigade members and a mechanism to share dispatches in the event of fires and natural disasters, among other measures.

The move is aimed at setting up a system that will supplement anti-disaster capabilities through municipal cooperation when the numbers of evacuees returning home differ according to community. The policy was included in six priority segments of wide-area cooperation shown at a meeting of experts commissioned to discuss the future pictures of the 12 municipalities, held in the city of Fukushima on June 3.

Measures to beef up the fire brigade system are expected to include a mechanism for cooperation under which brigade members will be mobilized from each municipality to areas hit by fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters. The scope of mobilization is to be determined according to the scale of a disaster, the number of brigade members and other factors. Also to be considered are partnerships regarding recruitment of brigade members and a system of training and guidance, and the sharing and management of materials and equipment. Future realignment of brigades will also be discussed.

In the current fiscal year ending next March, the prefecture and relevant municipalities will inaugurate a conference to support wide-area partnerships among fire brigades. At the conference, central, prefectural and municipal government officials and disaster experts will discuss a system of cooperation in the future on the basis of existing cases of wide-area partnerships elsewhere in the country. The views of brigade members in the 12 municipalities and regional problems will also be surveyed before specific guidelines are formulated within fiscal 2017.

(Translated by Kyodo News)