The fire service in North Cyprus is fairly well equipped, and it has a fleet of modern fire fighting vehicles and equipment, with stations located in the cities and major towns. As a hot and dry Mediterranean country, North Cyprus has its fair share of dangers relating to summer fires – and visitors need to be aware of these. The fire service also has certain powers in relation to reporting and arresting offenders who are the cause of fires, and they also attend road traffic accidents where their cutting equipment may be required for example.
In June 1995 North Cyprus experienced its worst forest fire in living memory, it dominated the skyline between Lapta in the west and Beşparmak over to the east, destroying around 160 kilometres of forest and famous olive groves as well as property and shops. Towns and villages were evacuated, and emergency help was sought from the fire services, military, foreign bases and the UN; the fire was eventually tamed three days later. This destruction left mountains bereft of trees, and although they have been replanted over the years, it will take many more years to re-establish and restore North Cyprus to its previous beauty. No one was ever found to have been responsible for this atrocity.
The fire service now has checkpoints along the coastline all over North Cyprus to watch for any signs of fire danger inland. There is also the Civil Defence who are part of a network of organisations who pull together in the event of a potentially life threatening situation – such as the one experienced in 1995.
When visiting North Cyprus, should you have reason to notify the fire service then the following numbers will be invaluable to you, and North Cyprus will be grateful for your help.
Forest Fire – 177
You will see ‘Alo-177’ signs on the roads all over North Cyprus.
Fire Service – 199
This number is for any other fire issue such as property related fires.
* Remember these numbers are for emergency purposes only.
It is worth noting that it is illegal to light fires for barbeques anywhere near or within reach of forest areas unless otherwise designated, and that bonfires are also illegal without a necessary permit.