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Fernando Castelo

Fernando Castelo

ECO123: What is needed in order not to have forest fires in Portugal in 2014?
Fernando Castelo, former chief of the voluntary fire-fighters of Portimão, in the senior officers reserve, responded:

More inspection activity is needed, for example in the case of burning and clearing the land, and penalising those people who do not comply with the law. T his is the work of the security forces, especially the GNR, but there should be a role involving more intervention by the fire brigades, through a change in the law.

There should also be information and training campaigns carried out among the general population, so that they can start to fight the fires right at the start. Including teaching people the best procedures when they ring the emergency number. Where they are, what happened… our biggest problem in the Algarve uplands is the scarcity of access roads. If people, when they are telling us about an outbreak of fire, give us the exact location and the best access route, we can save time.

Times change, equipment and fire-fighting methods too. The Algarve was a pioneer in a triangulation system which consists of approaching a fire more aggressively, with a combination of three groups of fire-fighters. But training is never enough. Because we have seen a change in the climate that has caused some more complicated situations. An information centre is needed in the Algarve, which would enable fire-fighters to be given specific and continuous training in the area of forest fires, so that we will have fire-fighters who are capable of intervening more effectively. There is already a plan for creating a training centre, in the Monchique area.

Biography: Fernando Castelo

Fernando Castelo, aged 51, businessman, grew up in the midst of the fire service and joined up at the age of 16. He moved to the reserve almost four years ago, and is at present concluding a degree in psychology to be able to return to active service, as a fire chief, a position he has already held.

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