The resources to fight forest fires will be strengthened starting today, in a year in which the great challenge is the pandemic of invite-19, and it is necessary to reconcile the response to fires with health security .
The National Operational Directive (DON), which establishes the special rural fire-fighting device (DECIR) for this year, indicates that, between today and May 31, the reinforcement of resources is at level II, the first additional increase in year.
During this period, 8,402 operatives will be available, comprising the 1,945 teams and 1,968 vehicles of the various agents present in the field, in addition to air means, which will be a maximum of 37.
Among the means, DON foresees, for this period, about 3105 elements belonging to voluntary firefighters, 228 operatives of the Special Firefighters Force and 2,200 of the GNR, which includes forest guards, in addition to the almost 3,000 forest sappers.
Within the scope of DECIR, the National Watchtower Network has been in operation since May 7, comprising 77 watchtowers to prevent and detect fires.
The fire season this year has the “great challenge” in reconciling the response to the covid-19 pandemic with the fight against fires, namely the protection of the operatives involved in DECIR.
The Secretary of State for Internal Administration, Patrícia Gaspar, said this week in parliament that the DECIR in 2020 has the challenge of guaranteeing the fight against fires and protecting the forest and, at the same time, protecting the operatives that may contract Covid-19 .
In this sense, the Government has already announced that “four major measures” are foreseen to mitigate “the eventual impact of the reduction of operational ones” that could become infected with Covid-19 during the firefighting months, which has to do with the rotation of the device, use of redundancy forces, balancing (balancing) means between districts and strengthening surveillance in critical areas.
The National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC) has also announced that it is preparing an operational document with measures and instructions that must be followed by those involved in fighting to minimize the effects of covid-19 on the ground.
The fire season is also overshadowed by the financial difficulties that humanitarian firefighters’ associations are currently experiencing due to the current pandemic situation, which can compromise their ability to respond to emergencies.
These financial difficulties “are the result of the abrupt decrease in the transport of non-urgent patients, with a very significant impact on their billing, aggravated by the sudden increase in spending on personal protective equipment and disinfection material”, as revealed this week.
In order to face this situation, the Government approved support for corporations that are in a situation of financial weakness and, to face the cash needs, namely to ensure the payment of salaries to salaried firefighters and other workers.
Also this week, the Government approved the financial circular, which foresees that the voluntary firefighters that are part of the fire fighting will be increased this year by four euros a day, now receiving 54 euros.
The financial circular, an annual document that regulates the State’s contribution to expenses resulting from interventions by fire brigades within the scope of ANEPC provisions, also contemplates an increase of 10% in the amount of the contribution with food.
The firefighting means will be reinforced again on June 1, but between July and September, known for the most critical phase, the period that mobilizes the biggest device, with 11,825 operational personnel, 2,746 teams, 2,654 vehicles this year and 60 aerial means.
The means are increased this year by 3% compared to 2019, namely with more rangers and forest sappers, and the aerial device is contracted for four years.