Civil Protection in Turmoil – ANPC denounces inaccurate media report

Concerning the 29th July 2017 edition of the weekly SOL titled a story by journalist Ana Carvalho as “Pedrogão – Civil Protection in Turmoil “, the ANPC have published the follow rebuttal of the content of the article.

ANPC state “The journalistic work, which contains factual errors, aimed to start a controversy, generate internal malaise and weaken the management of the National Civil Protection Authority, at a stage that is especially critical and demanding from the point of view of fighting the rural fires that have devastated the country, when the service and its operational, technical and administrative elements”.

They need maximum focus and concentration to respond to the challenges ahead.

  1. In that piece of journalism, it is stated that the recent departure of ANPC of the communication advisor Fausto Coutinho is due to “direct incompatibilities with the President” and “unavailability to deal with the blockade of information”, as well as “inconsistencies in decisions that were taken during the firefight”. These are false reasons, since that element expressed and was  free  to go” to face new tasks and new responsibilities, “as it was transmitted to the President of ANPC and also to all employees in a farewell email dated 14 July 2017 (and not on July 6 as it is referred to in that piece). His duties will end on August 5 when your bond is terminated.
  2. The communications advisor Fausto Coutinho never made any pronouncements, nor was this part of his functions as ANPC’s communications adviser, of the operational conduct, being limited to his work in connection with the media and strategic management of the Authority’s communication.
  3. The secretary of the President is also referred to as leaving the ANPC, which is false, and his absence is motivated by health reasons (medical leave).
  4. The story goes on to refer to the “mass substitution of civil protection operational and administrative frameworks in the midst of fires”, which is also false, since operational changes occurred prior to the start of the most critical and demanding phase of the forest fire campaign this year.
  5. As regards the administrative staff, the departures were made at the request of the interested parties and in small numbers and were quickly filled by replacing other elements in the same functions.
  6. In relation to Leira’s current 2nd Operational Commander (2CODIS), Mário Cerol, the article claims his lack of qualifications is shown for the performance of those functions as a counterpoint to those of the former 2CODIS of that district, Luís Lopes. For better clarification, it should be mentioned that Mário Cerol served as deputy commander (2001-2004) and commander (2004-2017) of the Alcobaça Volunteer Fire Department, a total of 16 years of effective command duties, while Luís Lopes only served as 2nd Commander of the Volunteer Firefighters of Leiria (2006-2013), a total of 7 years of command duties.
  7. Regarding the current 2CODIS of Leira, Mário Cerol, it is mentioned that he is licensed in law, as opposed to the academic qualifications of the former 2CODIS of that district, Luís Lopes, who graduated in Civil Protection. However, it is not evident that Mário Cerol has been licensed since 2003 and that Luis Lopes only finished his degree in 2016, during the exercise of functions as 2CODIS, nor the fact of the differences of history in the exercise of command between both, which demonstrates the suitability of the current 2CODIS for the functions it performs.
  8. The ANPC further clarifies that for the exercise of operational command functions, no specific academic areas have been defined. What was valued in choosing the elements of the operational structure was always his professional experience in the exercise of command and coordination functions, which was also evident over time in the diversity of skills and knowledge that various elements of the national level command and district have demonstrated ownership. We remember that they have already held high positions in the national command of ANPC licensed in management without their credibility being called into question.
  9. The journal also states that “failures were never publicly admitted without a red sign for that area on the day the fire broke out” and that “the means that would be necessary to fight the fire”.  In this regard, it is necessary to clarify to the population that the elevation of alert status to yellow for the district of Leiria was made through the Operational Technical Communiqué (ANC’s CTO) No. 11, dated June 15, 2017, to ” Heat and danger of forest fire “, based on IPMA Notice No. 114/2017, for” hot weather “.
  10. The increase in the special alert status requires all entities that compete for the integrated system of protection and rescue operations, from the municipal level, through the district level to the national level, to reinforce operational situation monitoring, intensification preparatory acts for the tasks of mitigation and suppression of risks and the pre-positioning of human and material resources to efficiently and effectively carry out the demands of the protection and relief actions.
  11. In addition, the ANPC also issued Notice to Population No. 8/2017, on June 15, which referred to the predicted meteorological scenario and the expected effects, if the

Preventive measures relating to heat and the use of fire in rural areas in accordance with the legislation in force, as well as self-protection measures for the population.

  1. Finally, the journalist points out in the story that she writes that “it is also unknown how many wounded are still in the hospitals and if any of those wounded died following their Injuries”. This is a matter accompanied by health agencies and should be addressed to those who are entitled.

Given that the journalistic piece is lacking in rigor, is inaccurate and contains falsehoods, and because it undermines the good name and honourability of persons and institutions, the ANPC denounces the situation and repudiates the way the matter was handled by this media body.

The original article can be read at:

https://sol.sapo.pt/artigo/574297/tragedia-de-pedrogao-grande-protecao-civil-em-alvoroco


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