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Firefighters' safety equipment to arrive after the summer season

fire fronteiraPortugal's Minister for Internal Affairs Miguel Macedo confirmed today the leasing of 4 specialist firefighting aircraft, as from tomorrow.

The government was meant to be buying two Canadair planes to fight forest fires but the leased aircraft will do in the meantime.

In February this year, Miguel Macedo announced in parliament that the acquisition of the Canadair planes using EU funds "was in the government plan," but today when questioned by journalists Macedo could only confirm the leasing of four different aircraft.

It is lucky that the Minister had some good news as the more pressing issue is the delay in supplying safety equipment for firefighters on the ground.

This essential protective equipment has not yet been delivered and the Minister of Internal Affairs said that he had not expected procurement delays especially "at a time like this" as we eneter the high-risk fire season.

The delay in equipment supply does seem to be safely out of Macedo’s hands as the responsibility recently transferred to the Comunidades Intermunicipais (CIM), groupings of the country’s councils.
Macedo explained that the Intermunicipal Communities now have the responsibility of making equipment acquisitions, that quotes and tenders are active but that no equipment yet has been delivered.

“I am of course worried and would rather that the equipment had been delivered," said Macedo in Lisbon today adding that tenders had been published in March 2013, with another round issued by the National Authority for Civil Protection this year, but that the personal protective equipment will only be available for distribution in October or November 2014.

When asked if he was sorry to have signed away the responsibility for procurement to the councils, the minister tried to excuse CIM by alluding to the “youth of the organisation.”

Aware that the official high-risk fire season starts tomorrow on July 1st, Macedo is off the hook. If CIM can not get its acts together then the Minsiter can stand by and ‘lament’ when firemen get killed due to a lack of sensible and essential equipment. Not ideal, but he is covered.

Over in Olhão the fire department announced special safety measures for Armona Island and in Moncarapacho during July and August.

On Armona, two lucky firemen will be stationed full time to serve and protect during the two peak months. They also have asked INEM for the loan of an 'automated external defibrillator' in case of emergencies.  

Moncarapacho residents will have the security of a stand-by team of five firefighters and a fierce looking vehicle called a Dispositivo de Combate a Incêndios Florestais, or ‘DECIF’ for short. This will enable a quick response to attend any countryside fires and the team will be looked after by the local Casa do Povo and the local Red Cross.

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+1 #1 Arnold. 2014-07-01 16:56
Aware that the official high-risk fire season starts tomorrow on July 1st ...

Knowing now about the equipment shortage, and financially strapped councils diverting these vital fire fighting funds into 'Friends and Families' pockets and awarding politicians medals ... :P

This explains well the odd choice - many english speakers will have picked up on - of cunningly calling this high fire risk period the 'Charlie Phase'

... and not by its more obvious and embarassing Lusofone 'Fase Carlos'.

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