Swiss Army aids Alpine Firefighters … and Cows

Press coverage of the wildfires in Switzerland during the summer of 2023 reported that “The Swiss Army, regional police, Air-Zermatt as well as local fire patrols and civil service agencies have been working tirelessly to fight the fires from the ground as well as the air.” 

In the same article it was reported that “A Super-Puma helicopter equipped with an infra-red camera flew over the area on Friday morning and took thermal images, which established that the surface temperature in the area is still at 200°C (392°F).” [1] Photo [2]

Days earlier an article in SWI ( entitled “Swiss army steps up help to contain forest fires” said that “Forest fires in southwest Switzerland are still not under control, as the army deployed additional help to extinguish the flames” and that “Firefighters estimate it will take several weeks to completely put out the flames in canton Valais”. 

With devastating forest fires affecting many parts of Europe and further afield in the world, last summer, the Valais blaze was the first major forest fire in Switzerland of the year, according to the article which stated that “Fires burned a record 700,000 hectares of forest in the European Union amid a heatwave last year” (2022). [3]

Swiss and UK scientists develop heat-resistant drone to help fight fires

Thanks to an insulating jacket made of aerogel the FireDrone can collect and send data from the scene of a fire, even from close up. Photo: Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa)

In a related article SWI reported that “Researchers in Switzerland and the UK have developed a heat-resistant drone that could be used to help fire fighters and rescue workers get a close-up view of a forest fire or a burning building. … To get closer to fires, researchers at Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) and Imperial College London have now developed a heat-resistant drone, known as FireDrone, that can provide important initial information from dangerous hot spots.” [4]

And finally ...

Swiss helicopters bring water for thirsty cows

Cows in the Swiss Alps /  Photo by: Matias Senger [6]

Already back in 2018 it SWI reported that “Swiss army helicopters have been bringing emergency water supplies to cattle farmers in high mountain pastures”. According to the report: 

“The army on Friday carried out its ninth operation of this kind since July 20, [2018] bringing several thousand litres of water to high mountain pastures above Weesen, in canton St. Gallen. The water comes from the nearby Walensee lake, according to spokeswoman Delphine Allemand. 

Farmers are not charged for the deliveries, she told the Swiss news agency SDA-ATS. The helicopter operations are financed from the regular army budget, since they also serve as training for the pilots. Another spokesperson said at the beginning of the week that the army nevertheless only intervenes as a last resort when private companies cannot do such operations”. [5]

[1] “Forest Fire Ravaging Swiss Mountain Region — Hundreds Evacuated” Julia Schneemann, Snow Brains, 21 July 2023

[2] Photo: Eurocopter AS332M Swiss Air Force Alpnach Air Base, Switzerland / Photo by Alan Wilson / Source: Wikimedia Commons / Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license / Originally posted to Flickr by HawkeyeUK

 [3] “Swiss army steps up help to contain forest fires, 19 July 2023

[4] “Scientists develop heat-resistant drone to help fight fires”, SWI,  26 June  2023

[5] “Army  helicopters bring water for thirsty cows”, SWI, 3 August 2018

[6] Photo: Cows in the Swiss Alps /  Photo by: Matias Senger / Source: Wikimedia Commons /  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.