Lisbon, 27 July 2019 (Lusa) – Home Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita today ordered an urgent inquiry into the hiring of fire-fighting material following news about smoke-resistant collars with flammable material distributed under the “Safe villages – Safe People Scheme”.

In a statement issued today, the Ministry of Internal Affairs says that, “in light of the published news about contractual aspects regarding awareness-raising material, the Minister of Internal Affairs requested clarification from the ANEPC and determined to open an inquiry.

The Jornal de Notícias reported on Friday that 70,000 smoke-free collars made of flammable and uncarbonised material, which cost 125,000 euros, were handed over by civil protection under the “Safe Village” and “Safe People” programs.

The National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC) then said that the materials distributed under the programs are not firefighting or personal protection, but awareness of good practice.

Asked by journalists in the Minister considered the news “irresponsible and alarmist” and underlined the importance of the program that is under way in more than 1,600 villages in the country, ensuring that the distribution of smoke-free collars does not undermine or neither the project nor the safety of the people.

Still in the statement released today, the Ministry of Internal Administration stated “It is reaffirmed that these materials are for information and sensitization on how the population should act in case of fire and evacuation and not firefighting”, says the ministry.

In the case of smoke collars, he explains that the objective is to “make the population aware of the importance of adopting a duct to protect exposed surfaces of the body (face and neck) and protect the respiratory tract in the event of a fire.”.

Among the materials produced are Implementation Support Guide, Evacuation Plan Signalling Kits and Self-Protection Kits to sensitize the population to preventive behaviours.

The programs, according to a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs, are being carried out in more than 1,900 settlements, involving parish councils and town councils and more than 1,500 local security officers.