Controlled burning now subject to tighter rules

Dear Editor,

I refer to your article in the Algarve Resident dated March 7, entitled “Controlled burning now subject to tighter rules”.

Firstly, I would like to thank the Resident for highlighting this subject in the context of ensuring safety in controlled burnings. This is important given that in 2018 over half of fires resulted from uncontrolled burns.

However, clarification is required concerning the statement “anyone intending to start a fire of any kind in open countryside … must have firefighters or at least forestry sappers on hand”.

The law distinguishes between “queima” and “queimada”. The first is related to burning stacked and cut debris. It is mandatory to inform the local municipality (by phone or email) or through the ICNF platform of this. During the process, you may request the presence of firefighters if you feel unable to do this safely.

However, it is NOT mandatory to have their presence, nor is it always possible given their many other priorities.

“Queimada” refers to extensive burns of pastures, stubble or forestry or agricultural operations remains that are cut but not stacked. For this, you need authorisation from the municipality (the same procedure as “queima”, but, instead of a simple information, you need to request permission). “Queimadas” require the presence of a technician certified in prescribed burning, or a firefighter team, or a “sapadores” team.

Government advice, however, is that no one should make a burn alone or without the help of capable persons.

David Thomas
President, Safe Communities Algarve