Portuguese Armed Forces take over fire control


The government has decided to widen the involvement of the Portuguese Armed Forces in the role of combat and prevention fires in Portugal.

Portuguese Air Force will take over control of aerial fire combat mechanisms under a single authority and command. The move comes after the release of independent commissions reports that investigated last Summer Pedrogao Grande fires and a shortly after the more deadliest fires in history that hit in Portugal on Sunday October 15th.

According to the fire investigation reports there is a lack of coordination of the means and resources to combat fires in Portugal. The independent reports also agree that the Portuguese communications infrastructures have failed during the most dramatic fire occurrences.

The most crucial aspect of fire combat is the use of aerial support to firemen on the ground and in this domain there are some intriguing questions. State contracts with private fire helicopters and airplanes companies involve millions of Euros. This year alone the Portuguese Government has made contracts with private firms, involving 180 million Euros and in just the first two weeks of October one British firm cashed in 900 thousands Euros to assist in combat of fires.

A game change moves by the Portuguese Government come after the second Sunday of October, the most tragic day in fires ever in Portugal, with 512 active fires, which claiming 42 more lives, which including early summer casualties, adds to a total of more than 100 deaths caused by fires in 2017 so far.

Other measures taken are more involvement in paramilitary and armed forces in fire prevention, that firemen becomes a fully professional career with adequate training, and that an additional 400 million Euros to be spent to helping hundreds of families and businesses that lost everything in the biggest outbreak of fires in a single day .

Jay Fernandes
Master’s Degree G. Ph. from the University of Lisbon. Academic and teacher. Television , radio and press reporter / commentator