Author: Leah Pattem / Photography: Guillermo Gutíerrez
On Tuesday 16 May, around 5000 firefighters from Coordinadora Unitaria de Bomberos Profesionales (CUBP) travelled from all over Spain to the capital to demonstrate their frustrations over government delays in updating a law that, if approved, would allow firefighting services across the country to tackle incidents based on which unit is closest.
Currently, bureaucratic issues mean teams are unable to communicate with each other, which results in multiple units turning up to the same incident while other incidents are left under-resourced. The union believes this is costing lives.
Spain’s airport firefighters, for example, have their hands tied due to the semi-privatisation of aerodromes. Before tackling an incident, units must wait for the authorisation of an external manager which lengthens action times.
The firefighters’ demonstration in Madrid comes just weeks before ‘wildfire season’ in Spain begins. As a service that is increasingly overstretched and under-resourced, the Interior Ministry must approve the law to streamline fire services now.
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