Budget Cuts Won’t Stop Fire Fighting In The Algarve

fires in forests

Budget cuts in Portugal will not adversely affect fire fighters in the Algarve this summer according to a spokesman from the Bombeiros.

The unseasonably dry winter in the Algarve has left many worrying that this summer could see an outbreak of fires across the Algarve, however the authorities are confident that they will be able to respond to any fires with the same level as in previous years.

The operational commander for the district of Faro, Abel Gomes, told the Portuguese News Agency Lusa that despite cut backs across the board in Portugal the fire fighting abilities in the Algarve would not be compromised.

“The National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) financially supports the Bombeiros in the region and we will continue to operate to the expected standards this year. Let’s wait and see how it goes,” said Abel Gomes.

Although Abel Gomes was optimistic about the future of the fire fighting service in the Algarve he did concede that there have been “no exceptions” when it came to 2012 budget cuts in Portugal and that the fire service had also seen cuts made to its budget.

One of the areas most under scrutiny as to its fire fighting abilities is the Bombeiros of Silves.  In Silves the number of operational fire fighters has been reduced due to financial constraints which has led to questions as to how affective the service can be in this area.

The Silves and Monchique areas of the Algarve traditionally see the largest numers of fires each year due to the large areas of woodland and forest.

Fire fighters are urging residents to try to combat the threat of fires themselves by clearing scrub land around properties to create fire breaks in the area.

Other warnings have also been issued by the Bombeiros when it comes to actively reducing the number of fires in the region including the careful and considered use of barbeques, not dropping cigarettes out of car windows or in rural areas and being vigilant when seeing any possible fire hazards.

This summer the Algarve will have the use of three helicopters to patrol and fight fires in the region.  The helicopters are based in Monchique, Loulé and Cachopo (Tavira).

The extra helicopter this year will be used in the centre of the region from June 15 until the end of September.

While there will be extra help int he air this year the number of fire fighters on the ground in the Algarve will remain basically unchanged from 2011 with a maximum of 448 fire fighters and 116 vehicles servicing the Algarve in the fight against fires.

Whether or not this number of fire fighters and vehicles are enough to control fires in the Algarve remains to be seen however Abel Gomes told Lusa that if needed extra reinforcements could be brought in from the Alentejo region to help in the Algarve.

Abel Gomes concluded: ”We can never say whether or not our resources are sufficient, but we are not alone. Whenever necessary, we will be reinforced by our neighbours in the adjacent districts.”