Boroughs also call for permanent firefighting team
The president of the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL) called on Thursday for an improved tsunami warning system, forest video surveillance and a permanent firefighting force – these are “major civil protection projects” that should be implemented in the region in the coming years.
“The region must be more prepared in terms of safety,” said AMAL president António Miguel Pina, adding that, in the next six or seven years, two or three major (civil protection) projects should be in place to ensure emergency preparedness in the face of the two main risks of disaster in the Algarve – tsunamis and forest fires.
The Olhão mayor was speaking during the signing of the memorandum establishing the Algarve Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (PRRRC) – the first to be set up in the country, with a total of 26 bodies involved – held on Thursday at the headquarters of AMAL in Faro.
Stressing that there is “a mathematical model” that anticipates scenarios in the event of a tsunami, António Miguel Pina maintained that “it needs to be updated” and that “we need to invest in a real tsunami warning system”.
“This is important for those who live here, whether they are locals or those who decide to live here, but also for those who visit us,” he stressed, referring to the need to “increase the sense of security” in a region that is highly touristic.
The second major risk for the Algarve is the forest fires that “systematically” devastate the region, the leader of AMAL added.
António Pina said that video surveillance is a “decisive investment in detecting fires as early as possible, and reaching them as quickly as possible, at the stage when they are easiest to extinguish,” with the idea being for this system to cover the Barrocal and mountainous areas, which are less accessible.
Pina also took the opportunity to speak directly to the president of the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC), General Duarte Costa, to call for the creation of a unit similar to the existing Special Firemen Force, but one that is “permanently” based in the Algarve.
“It is necessary that our region takes a step forward in the fight against forest fires with a truly regional [firefighting] force. General, I would leave you with this challenge: the Algarve could be the first region in the country to have a truly regional force,” said Pina.
Assuming that the state and municipalities would have to find “a way of financing” the project, he added that its creation would “put local councillors and citizens in a much better position.”
“The municipalities believe, especially by taking advantage of the next community programming framework, that the region, after these six, seven years, must become more resilient,” the AMAL leader stressed.
The Algarve Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (PRRRC), made official on Thursday, makes the region a pioneer in Portugal, aiming to “stimulate and strengthen governance in risk management, particularly at the local level”.
“Its ultimate goal will be to promote the articulation of local entities and citizens’ associations in joint action against risk at the regional level, based on a strategy of prevention and security, through knowledge, innovation, awareness, education, communication and participation of civil society, aimed at the development of activities for disaster risk reduction, increasing resilience in the community and in the different structures of the various sectors,” says the PRRRC blurb.
In addition to the 16 Algarve municipalities, the platform also includes the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection, the Agency for Integrated Management of Rural Fires, Águas do Algarve, the Algarve Tourism Association, the Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises of the Algarve, the Algarve University Hospital Centre, GNR, Safe Communities Portugal and the University of Algarve.
This solution is framed by international regulations, namely the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, intending to respond to national regulations such as the National Strategy for a 2030 Preventive Civil Protection.