With the present drought and recent fires, it might comes as a surprise that the Junta is going to partially close down Infoca for the season.
Actually, this requires some explaining: the fire season lasts until the 15th of October, meaning the air bases and aircraft, together with their pilots and ground crew, remain on duty. After the 15th, they are flown to larger bases in Sevilla, for example, for maintenance and the aircrew stood down.
However, a reduced number of ‘foot soldiers,’ so to speak, are kept on to maintain firebreaks, thin out woodlands and clear lower branches, etc, etc, therefore Infoca not only still exists between mid October and May, but this is when the bulk of the fire-prevention work is carried out.
Yet, the climate is changing and seasons don’t come and go like clockwork anymore, so cut off dates are really not that practical, which is precisely what Infoca personnel are protesting about.
They’re saying that it is still tinder dry out there and temperatures remain relatively high, yet the workforce has been cut by almost half but the Junta doesn’t see it that way and claim that they can’t keep on the same personnel once the fire season has past – many of the fire fighters are on seasonal contracts rather than full-time employment.
The Junta does say, however, that they have an advisory board which can make the decision to extend the campaign and request funding from Hacienda for this purpose.
Therein lies the bone of contention because Infoca workers have been pushing the Environmental Agency to extend the campaigns until, at least, the 31st of October because of changes in the climate.
One Infoca firefighter who is the union representative, Carlos Maldonado, said, “I remember one large fire on the 31st of December,” adding, “the forecast for this autumn is that it is going to be dry with warm temperatures; very little rainfall, meaning that natural fire fuel (vegetation) in forests will be abundant, making the risk of fire rather high still.
Infoca personnel in Granada will drop from 252 firefighters to just 126 personnel plus 18 vehicles come the 15th of October; in other words, tomorrow.
(News: Granada, Andalucia)