Visit to the Municipal Fire Station in Funchal

December 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
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The group went to visit the local Municipal Fire Station in Funchal to the North of Dolce Vita.

This was a very interesting visit. Chief Samuel, one of the shift leaders with many years of experience, showed us the station and the cars and gave us honest answers to a lot of prickly questions.

The highlights:

The team has 137 staff (it should have 140)

26 persons are always on call on 12 hour shifts.

The response time is very quick, especially if you do not call 112 (officially what you have to do) but directly to them (291 200930).

The city is divided into two parts:

West: Municipal Bombeiros,

East: Voluntary Bombeiros, but if there is a fire in the Zone Velha or around the Cathedral, both units always respond.

The staff have a gym, a canteen (most bring their own food) , a multi-purpose room with internet and sleeping quarters.

A regular fireman/woman earns around 600-700€ month, a Chief around 1100€ (they say, brut, less taxes…)

Nothing much may happen in a shift but they have to be alert. Tension is palpable in the building and the courtyard.

The equipment:

There is never enough money around to have the best equipment and maintenance but this is a complaint every Fire Station in the world voices. The FNC Volunteers have worse equipment, though.

A lot of equipment is bought from Germany. The base of the cars may be coming from Mercedes but the top is built by a Portuguese company, Jacinto. They are very good at custom building fire equipment and sell their fire engines all over Europe. (Land Rovers are not the favourite Fireman car, they are being replaced over time.)

There are smaller cars to check out a situation – the Fire Chief has always to be there first.

They have one car to free people trapped in cars – this is the worst job they have to do

Ladder cars:

We have the biggest ladder in Portugal (55m) this is the second biggest ladder in Europe. Think of hotels like Pestana Carlton…

There are regular Fire Trainings in the hotels for the firemen by the Fire Departments. These trainings serve also to check the pipes and hydrants. All hotels have to have an internal “first response” Fire Team.

Water tanks:

All cars have water tanks of various sizes, the biggest contains 32000 l water (all hydrant water is fresh water)

They also come with foam which is very effective but expensive. The Station has a tank of 1000 l foam.

The pipes are surprisingly slim; water pumps can be taken out by hand to be placed where they can be connected to external water supplies.

The Station also has a training tower to train for high-rise fires. The staff has lot of training sessions to keep them in shape and respond to new situations or regulation.

Ambulances:

They have ambulances just for emergencies; the Volunteers and other services (Red Cross) take care of non-urgent transports. In the time we were there, the ambulances moved out twice. – no fire alarms.

 

E., with his dire experience in Monte last year, spoke about the shortcomings during the situation (hydrants blocked, lagoon water not used, no help from the fire department) Chief Samuel acknowledged this.

Chief Samuel confirmed that there was an order to save the Monte Church – nowadays; such an order could not be imposed on the Firemen anymore.

On February 20, 2010, contrary to the rumours, only 42 persons died, and nobody drowned in the underground parking garages.

The Fire Department has its own water gauge in the mountains so that they know when a flood can be expected downtown.

In Dolce Vita, the order was to evacuate the parking, and people tried to take out their cars but the “guards” wouldn’t open the gates without payment so more cars were rendered unusable

We gave Chief Samuel our Fire Manual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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