The power of local communities in the detection of forest fires has become more evident than ever in recent years thanks to the work of “Associação Alerta de Incêndio Florestal,” the Algarve’s forest fire alert association.
The association, which uses Facebook as a tool to report fires as soon as they break out and keep people updated, has become one of the ‘go-to’ pages for anyone looking for the latest information about wildfires in the Algarve.
But the association’s work goes way beyond just posting on Facebook. Members work hard every year to raise money for new equipment for local firefighting forces.
“As we know, fire services are run on shoestring budgets,” the association says.
“For several years, Alerta has been helping the Bombeiros of the Algarve and our immediate neighbours in the Beja district when funds allow,” it adds.
The association helps provide everything from water, energy drinks and energy bars to toiletries, basic first aid supplies and “even food supplies if needed”.
“To do this, we need funds,” Alerta stresses. “We organise fundraising events, and other groups and bands hold events for us. We will unashamedly beg, if need be.
“But mostly we have wonderful supporters who donate to Alerta. At the end of each fire season, we spend any excess funds on replacing burnt and damaged forest fire uniforms and gear.
“Last year, because of generous donations from the community and the golf clubs of Pinheiros Altos and Quinta do Lago, we were able to spend a record €95,455.50 to replace much-needed equipment.”
These efforts aim to help the brave men and women who “fight until the fire is out, be it a villa, farm, shrub, forest or golf course.
“At the end, after defeating the flaming beast, even though they are totally exhausted, they will smile and be proud,” the association says.
For those interested in following, joining or donating to Alerta, the association can be found by searching for ‘Associação Alerta de incendio Florestal / Forest fire Alert’ on Facebook or online at www.algarvefire.info
Donations can be made via bank transfer to ‘AIL-ASSOCIACAO PARA ALERTA DE INCENDIO FLORESTAL’ (IBAN: PT50 0033 0000 4549 9091 2130 5)