The Minister of Internal Affairs, Anabela Rodrigues, announced today that the Government is to buy two new fire support aircraft.
"The government has started the process to buy two aircraft to fight forest fires," said Rodrigues at a meeting of the Portuguese Firemen League. She gave no clue as to how long this process might last or when the new aircraft could be operational.
Rodrigues said that the acquisition of the equipment will be through European funding so that the existing firefighting budget can still be used to buy other necessary fire equipment.
The president of the Firemen League, Jaime Marta Soares, stressed the need for more state funding and Rodrigues said that the work on central government financing for the fire service is complete and an increase in funding of more than 10% currently is in progress.
This government increase runs alongside its final negotiations with the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities to raise its members' fire service funding levels.
In reality the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities is not keen at all to raise its funding for the fire service and wants to government to pay for the lot.
Many local councils do not have the funds and the onus is still on the public to fundraise for a fire service that should be universal with common standards of equipment and response times across the country.
The president of the Firemen League said he was stunned by the lack of enthusiasm from local councils and said the League will raise awareness among local authorities of the need to take their responsibilities for civil protection seriously.
"I do not know what the Portuguese municipalities are waiting for or what they want, unless they want the extinction of the volunteer firefighting service in Portugal. I hope that is not what will happen, but if there is no answer shortly, the League of Portuguese Firefighters will not fail to make this attitude known to the Portuguese people," said Soares.
"The overwhelming majority of municipalities do not fund, or only fund a small part of firefighters' costs” said Soares.
The Minister of Internal Affairs said that it also is the intention of the Government to continue this dialogue and to create a “space for reflection, analysis, dialogue and sharing in finding the best solutions in three key areas: prevention, surveillance and firefighting."