Heat wave: after the controversy, the Tarn prefect explains the cancellation of the Castres fan zone

the essential
Questioned by several elected officials, after the cancellation of the Castres fan zone and the cycling stage of the Route d’Occitanie, the prefect of Tarn assumes his options, in a context of red alert due to the heat wave. “What would we say of a prefect who does not protect the population from him?” asks François-Xavier Lauch.

Castres’ fan zone ban for the Top 14 semi-final was rather poorly received by rugby fans. Was this measure necessary?

As director of emergency operations, I am obliged to verify the compatibility of each event with the safety of people, taking into account its importance in local life, the risk to human life and the possible congestion of rescue services. In the fan zone we would have had 15,000 people, who would have started meeting at 6:00 p.m., in a festive context with alcohol consumption, all on a large mineral slab with high calorific power. It didn’t seem like a good solution to me. Also, you may have noticed that the match is taking place and that I haven’t banned people from watching it in the bars.

At the risk of disappointing…

You rarely get applause when you make that kind of decision. But it is the role of a Prefect, to ensure the safety of the people, even against themselves. Other colleagues, in Gironde, in Vendée, have made the same choices. What would one say of a prefect who does not protect the population from him? The heat wave is a very insidious thing. Some people feel neither the heat nor the lack of hydration. They tell themselves that everything is fine. However, after several days, where you cannot rest, because the nights are hot, it is there that your health is altered. We’re going to do everything we can to avoid overcrowding health services, which could cost lives at the end of the episode.

“On red alert, we enter another universe”

Couldn’t all these measures have been better anticipated?

The red alert only dates from Thursday 4 pm We have been preparing this event for several days, in connection with City and the club. During the transition to yellow surveillance, then orange, we plan to install foggers. On red alert, we enter another universe.

He has been questioned by the president of the department, Christophe Ramond, who is surprised by the cancellation of the Occitanie route when it never happened in the Tour de France. Aren’t we being too cautious?

The thought is the same. We were expecting 3,000 people in Graulhet for the start. I discussed it with Mayor M.Aznar before making this decision. I made a series of proposals. They told me that it was better to cancel the race than to do it halfway. I did not make these decisions behind the backs of elected officials. I also discussed with Mr. Ramond and with Mr. Bugis, who took notes. Everything else is comment.

“These heat waves are going to repeat themselves”

Could there be compensation as some claim?

We will review requests as they come in. The heat wave affects everyone, not just the state. The Prefect replaced the organizers who could have made certain decisions themselves.

In what way is the situation we are going through exceptional?

In the first place, because we are in June and it is the third time that a red alert has been activated due to a heat wave. For this you need a temperature above 40°C with a low caloric drop at night for more than three days in a row. Unfortunately, these heat waves are going to repeat themselves. We will have to prepare collectively and know how to adapt. It is not something you discover. I wrote on May 13 to all elected officials to send them the departmental heat wave plan and ask them to update the municipal backup plans.

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