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(en) Spaine, CNT, #433: The Board burns us - Basti (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 22 Mar 2023 07:28:38 +0200

Every year we access the contract through a series of tests, the offers appear on the internet and you have to be attentive since they have deadlines and dates to sign up, then they let you know what day it will be and we do them. The tests for an ELIF (Forest Fire Fighting Team), that is to say a helicopter, with which we cannot leave the community of Castilla y León, consist of running 2.4 km in 11:30 as the limit, making a line of defense (dig into mineral soil) to cut the continuity of the fuel in case the fire came from one of the sides of said line, a multiple choice theoretical exam, and personal interview. Once the tests were passed, we signed a work and service contract, illegal since the last labor reform, which lasts from July 1 to September 30 for 80% of the operation against the fight against forest fires in Castilla y León. Period established by the risk of fire, according to the Board, Quiñones considers that having the crews longer is unnecessary and an economic waste and that the fault of the state of our mountains is environmentalism.

If they like the way you work, they can extend the campaign by 15 days, that is called post-campaign, there are people who start a month before, that is called pre-campaign, but the vast majority have 3-month contracts.

forestry agreement
According to the forestry agreement, we cannot be on duty for more than 12 hours in a fire, and we must have 12 hours of rest between one day and another. But the reality is that we spent 24 hours inside the fires, with hardly any food or water, as happened this summer in Zamora.
In the case of the helitransportada we have 4 days of work and 2 days of rest. With morning and afternoon shifts, the hours vary depending on the sunset, with 24-hour availability on the days you work and the obligation to come to our job within half an hour at the latest from when we answer the call.

We have the professional category of specialist laborer, which means that we charge less, that the agreement does not correspond to our work and a long etc. of irregularities.

We are subcontracted by private companies, that is, the Board hires companies so that they have personnel and means, as we already know what private companies are looking for is the maximum benefit, for this they save on extra pay, on having tools such as hoes, pulaskis (ax with hoes), fire extinguishers, fire extinguisher backpacks in terrible condition, which break shortly after using them, or are "fixed" from other years by other colleagues with zip ties, rubber bands... they pressure people so that when they take a casualty they join as soon as before through the mutual, and thus obtain the maximum benefit.

At the beginning of the campaign they give us 2 t-shirts and 2 fireproof overalls (one from last year "sanitized" and the other new), we wear fireproof boots and gloves and work gloves, a helmet, anti-projection dark glasses, fire-fighting glasses (poor quality ) and helmet. EPIS that may not be enough for the risk we run. We always have in mind a security protocol that consists of: Observation. Attention. Communication. Exhaust. Safe Place (OACEL).

It depends on which mountain we go to, there are pine forests, broad-leaved forests, pastures, scrub, but in general it is not well cared for with a high density of vegetable fuel, something that would be resolved if the crews worked pruning, clearing brush, making sacks and taking care of roads , breaks fires and access to water points throughout the year, and every year we find it drier due to the climate crisis.

I always thought that the forests should not be touched, that nature has been here many centuries before us and that it would know what to do on its own, the problem is that we have modified the environment so much that today it is These forestry tasks are necessary, such as clearing and thinning (removing firewood from the mountains), clearing brush and pruning at height, it must also be taken into account that firebreaks and roads, if they are not kept clean, are repopulated with heliophilous species ( that like light) like heather, and that after a short time it is full of fuel again, so they are of no use to stop the fire in the event of a forest fire. This situation of abandonment did not happen until the 1960s because people lived in the towns and it was these settlers who took care of the forest with different uses, such as removing firewood, browsing the cattle, cleaning the scrub, with their footsteps and care. They kept roads mostly missing.

It depends on which mountain we go to, there are pine forests, broad-leaved forests, pastures, scrub, but in general it is not well cared for with a high density of vegetable fuel, something that would be resolved if the crews worked pruning, clearing brush, making sacks and taking care of roads , breaks fires and access to water points throughout the year, and every year we find it drier due to the climate crisis.

Many of the mountains of Castilla y León are repopulated by different species of pines that were planted in the middle of the 20th century, such as the Sierra Culebra, in most cases they are mono-specific plantations that are not taking the care they need, being found in very bad conditions, favoring the spread of fire, many of these species do not correspond to that habitat but were planted there, replacing the original ones that were leafy in most places (holm oaks, oaks...) since these take longer to grow and when used for economic use, the others are more interesting.

Those of us who have started this year see how in 6 badly given hours of practice they send us to the hell of fires, without doing enough practice laying hoses, without having done marches with the 20l backpacks that we should be used to carrying since then, in the best of cases, we will take them for more than 10 hours, without having embarked and disembarked something dangerous enough in the helicopter so that they do not give you even minimal or practical notions before being supposedly prepared to entrust that task.

This added to the neglect of the rural world, the state of our mountains and the temporary nature of the contracts lead people to change jobs and those of us who want to stay, when we reach a minimum of preparation, send us to unemployment losing and forgetting the practice won for next year.

If we worked all year round with necessary tasks such as prevention, cleaning firebreaks and creating new water points, making access routes for the brigades, pruning and clearing the forests and with decent conditions, these virulent fires would not occur, the people who more campaigns it carries out, it would not abandon the operation and above all we would not be regretting the 3 deaths this summer in Losacio.

The demands that we have from ATIFCYL (Association of Forest Fire Workers of Castilla y León) are very clear and we will not settle for less, category of forest firefighters, public employment and operative all year round, in addition to the resignation of the counselor of the environment and director of natural heritage.

Labor dignity for the forest firefighter! 100% public operation, professional category and work throughout the year.

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