The agreement between the Algarve municipality and the Associação Humanitária de Bombeiros Voluntários (AHBV) of Vila Real de Santo António and Castro Marim aims to “ensure operational, logistical and financial cooperation, within the scope of Civil Protection” and allow the fulfilment of the emergency mission in 2024, explained the Faro district council.

The Algarve chamber recalled that the Tribunal de Contas (TdC) refused to approve a multi-annual protocol signed between the municipality and the fire brigade, which serves the municipality and the neighbouring municipality of Castro Marim, “due to insufficient funds to support the commitment”.

The protocol, will be in force from January 1 to December 31, 2024, with the objective to ensure an adequate transition until the multi-annual protocol takes effect, with its success pending a favourable decision from the TdC.

The municipality refers to the protocol of the two municipalities established in 2023, with the Associação Humanitária to guarantee the operation and response to emergencies for the “next four years”.

When the agreement was signed in 2023, the Associação Humanitária dos Bombeiros classified it as “pioneering”, as it provided annual support to the cooperation, “60 percent by the municipality of Vila Real de Santo António, in an investment exceeding €400 thousand, and 40 percent by the municipality of Castro Marim, with an investment of more than €275 thousand, both exclusively for operations”.

To these values, were added “the multi-annual investment plans of the respective municipalities” through which “personal protective equipment appropriate to the different aspects of intervention” and “vehicles and equipment” would be provided.

The Vila Real de Santo António Chamber hopes that the approval of support through an annual protocol will allow funding for firefighters to be maintained, while the impasse with the TdC regarding the multi-annual protocol signed in 2023 is not resolved.

“One of the main initiatives included in the protocol is the logistical support for operations within the scope of the Sistema Integrado de Operações de Proteção e Socorro (SIOPS). Additionally, an Intermunicipal Civil Protection Center dedicated to emergency management will be maintained with a permanent helpline”, declared the Vila Real de Santo António Chamber.

On January 20, the cooperation celebrated 134 years of action, the municipality of Castro Marim announced the signing of a plan with the Associação Humanitária de Bombeiros for the “acquisition of personal protective equipment for the defence of forests against fires or urban fires”.

The plan also includes means to combat rural fires for the parish of Azinhal, highlighted the Chamber of Castro Marim.