On 29th May 2018 an Auto-protection Awareness Session was held in the small village of Cumeada located between Silves and Messines. This was one of the first sessions in the Algarve under governments “Aldeia Segura” e “Pessoas Seguras” (Safe Villages – Safe People) program.

The purpose of the session was to brief villagers on how to protect themselves should they be affected by a rural fire. It was attended by the Mayor of Silves and Head of the ANPC Faro District among others including Safe Communities Portugal.

The session covered: The sounding of church bells or other alarms in the event of a major fires approaching the village; the location of local high fire risk areas; creation of fire breaks and future ones planned; escape routes in the event of a fire; location of assembly points; familiarisation of fire escape route and assembly point signage; the identity of the local auto-protection fire agent and protection against smoke inhalation.

The ANPC have stated that similar sessions will be rolled out in HIGH RISK villages throughout the country organised by municipal councils.

These awareness sessions and plans are based on the lesson learned from the terrible fires last year that resulted in the loss of over 100 lives. Knowing what to do in an emergency can save lives and this is why it is important to attend such sessions if organized in your village. They will largely be in Portuguese but very easy to follow if a non-Portuguese speaker.

In the coming weeks similar seminars will be held in villages throughout the country in villages that have been identified as “high risk” mainly in the northern parts of the Algarve. It is therefore important to look out for information from the local camara as when and where these will be. If in doubt whether your village has been designate high risk consult with the local Junta da Freguesia.

One major development is the introduction of signage in high risk villages showing the escape routes from fires in the direction of assembly points.

Safe Communities Portugal will be at stand 49 at the Algarve International Fair and will have available more details on this topic as well as the leaflet in English on Safe villages – Safe People” published on 25th May 2018.