The Safe Village, Safe People Program, created this year in response to last year’s fires, is being impolemented in 600 villages in the country, with 310 places of refuge identified.

Silvério Teixeira, deputy chief of the retired PSP, was the first local security officer in a village in Portugal. Since April 9, he has been in charge of the security of the residents of Vale Florido, in Ansião.

The “Safe Village, Safe People” program already has 450 designated security officers.

The initiative, launched by the Ministry of Internal Administration, is being implemented by municipalities and parish councils, especially in places where the risk of fire is higher (189 municipalities and 1049 parishes), under the guidance of the National Authority for Civil Protection (ANPC), which developed a program implementation guide.

The guardians have been chosen from villagers. They are people of the land that everyone knows, able to mobilize neighbours, to guard against risky behaviour, to report in the event of approaching the flames and to take the reins of evacuation to a shelter or even to an extreme situation. This mission of great responsibility is a voluntary act.

At the moment, there are 600 clusters involved in the program. In addition to the designation of a local security officer, this initiative also includes the drafting of evacuation plans, the creation of collective refuges within the localities and the signalling of escape routes.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the “signalling necessary to identify evacuation routes and places of refuge” has begun to be distributed among the 189 municipalities with 1049 parishes with a higher risk of fire. The 650 thousand houses in those parishes will receive information with measures of self-protection against fires.

In addition to the appointment of security officials, some 250 villages already have an evacuation plan and 310 collective shelter sites have been identified. The ANPC and the mayors have opted for buildings of collective use, such as chapels or venues of local associations.