The Portuguese Association of Volunteer Firefighters (APBV) on Wednesday 12th December demanded an apology from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) for its statements and requested several urgent hearings to discuss the situation of the sector.

The APBV met on Wednesday evening its national bodies in plenary at the headquarters of the Volunteer Firefighters of Campo de Ourique, in Lisbon, to analyse the entire situation of firefighters in the country.

“The firefighters are discouraged and do not see themselves in the declarations that the minister has made and also that Portugal could be at risk because of the measures announced by the [Portuguese Firefighters] League,” João Marques, vice president of the APBV told Lusa.

The APBV also argues that it should be heard in parliamentary committee on the proposal to reform the Organic Law of Civil Protection, which is the origin of the controversy, expressing discontent at not being chosen for this hearing.

According to João Marques, the association decided to send letters to the President of the Republic, the President of the Assembly of the Republic and all parliamentary groups with a request for an urgent hearing, and also requested hearings from the MAI and the Secretary of State for Civil Protection.

“We had already asked the MAI and the Secretary of State for hearings, but since we have not received a response, let us ask for it again. We also asked for an audience with the president of the Firemen’s League, who we had asked before, to try to join forces to resolve the current situation “he stressed.

Among the main claims the APBV are seeking are the reinstatement of the time of service for retirement purposes, the updating of the insurance system, the creation of a medical-sanitary surveillance program for the operatives and exemptions from university fees and technical-professional courses re

The Minister of Home Affairs assured the presidents and fire department commanders that “every avenue of dialogue is open” to “build the best solutions” and respond to expectations.

“Because this is a reform designed to value Portuguese firefighters and encourage volunteering, all the ways of dialogue are open in order to build the best solutions to respond to your legitimate expectations, for the sake of the quality of protection and relief and safety of Portuguese, “Eduardo Cabrita wrote in a letter sent to the presidents of voluntary humanitarian firefighters and their commanders, which Lusa had access to.

The minister said he hoped that “in dialogue, the process could be concluded.”

The letter was sent after the National Council of the Portuguese Firemen’s League (LBP) decided to suspend all operational information forwarding to district relief operations (CDOS) commanders.