Fires are the major threats to forest ecosystems. In the years 1990-2008
a total of 168.2 thousand forest fires were recorded in Poland over a total area of 170.3 thousand ha. Only in 2008 a total of 7850 forest fires broke out and 2514 ha stands burned down. In the same year in forested areas administered by the State Forests National Forest Holding there were 3306 fires, covering the area of 663 ha. This amounts to 42% in terms of the number and 26% in terms of the af-flicted area of the total number of forest fires in Poland. The forest hazard for for-est complexes forces the entities managing them to undertake actions required by the Polish regulations, consisting in e.g. the establishment and maintenance of an adequately dense network of roads, referred to fire roads. They are an important component of the forest fire hazard monitoring system as well as have a consider-able effect on the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of the conducted fire-fighting activities. This study analyzed the technical condition of almost 50 kilometers of roads considered to be fire access roads in a state forest division in southern Po-land. As a result of the conducted survey it was found that in terms of the type of road pavement the highest percentage of roads, i.e. almost 68%, comprises dirt roads. At the same time it was observed that their technical condition is not mark-edly different from the requirements imposed by the Polish regulations in this re-spect. However, repair works, of different character and scope, would have to be performed on an emergency basis on over 4.5 km roads, which constitutes 9.6% length of all fire roads. These works should mainly consist in the repair and reno-vation of pavements, the construction of passing places and clearing of road sides. In the course of field works an urgent need was observed to replace the signs for the beginning and end of fire roads. This pertains to places, in which a significant change in their direction takes place, e.g. at the crossings with other roads. As
a result of the analysis of collected documentation it was also recommended to the forest division to increase the effectiveness of the repair and modernization works in forest roads. It was suggested not to continue the profiling of dirt pavements and rather reinforce them with cheap rock material, e.g. carbonaceous shale. The change in the method of repair and modernization of these roads by the forest di-vision will contribute to the reduction of the high percentage of fire roads with dirt pavements of poor bearing capacity and susceptible to the impact of weather con-ditions, and as a consequence it will lead to the creation of a network of fire roads of high load bearing capacity, which may be used for timber transport without the risk of their being easily damaged.
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