Russia should have as many as a millionvolunteerfirefighters and needs a law to make sure they are well-equipped, the emergency situations minister said on NTV on Sunday.
Sergei Shoigu said that Russia`s 250,000 professional firefighters were not enough for a country of 144 million people covering more than a tenth of the Earth`s land surface.
"We need an 800,000-, 1 million-volunteer fire department. But we would like it to be a service based on professionalism, so that these people are trained, so that they are well equipped," the minister said.
Thousands of volunteers helped firefighters and soldiers this summer as Russia battled hundreds of wildfires amid an unprecedented heat wave and two months of drought.
"We hope that the law on a volunteer fire service will be enacted this year. Under this law we will provide certain benefits. I hope that the lawmakers approve them, and that the Finance Ministry and the Economy Ministry do not dilute them," Shoigu said.
The deputy head of Russia`s volunteerfirefighters, Konstantin Belousov, has said that the quasi-legal work of volunteers hides the flaws in Russian law regarding fire safety and volunteering.
He said that the draft law put forward by the emergencies ministry would help resolve the legal contradictions and allow volunteerfirefighters to do more.