Working meeting with Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu 2012-01-31 15:30:00 Gorki, Moscow Region Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disasters Relief Sergei Shoigu reported to Dmitry Medvedev on the Ministry’s performance in 2011. The Minister reported on the Emergencies Ministry’s re-equipment, which is being carried out on the President’s instructions. In particular, the world's largest reserve of firefighting aircraft has been set up, consisting of 14 heavy aircraft and 124 helicopters. Voluntary fire brigades are being organised, especially in rural areas, and nationwide their figure has reached 170,000. The Minister said that over the course of last year the number of fires has been reduced by 6% and the number of deaths due to fire has been halved. Mr Shoigu also said that in 2011 the Ministry provided emergency assistance to 27 countries, including during a major disaster in Japan. These countries include Tunisia and Libya, as well as Nicaragua and Sri Lanka, where mine clearance units have been set up. In Serbia, a major humanitarian centre has been established, which has already provided assistance in mine clearance in that country, delivered relief supplies to Kosovo and was involved in the firefighting efforts in the Balkans with the use of three Russian aircraft. The Minister also reported on implementing the Presidential instruction regarding the construction of helipads along the most congested highways. Mr Shoigu reported that five helicopters equipped with medical and rescue equipment have already entered service along the Moscow — St Petersburg highway.