Situation of Alert in place to combat risk of forest fires

What does it mean; what are the rules?

With scorching temperatures across the country, the government has decreed a “Situation of Alert” in a bid to combat outbreaks of rural fires.

The decision implies a list of rules and regulations, some of which people (particularly those on holiday) may not instantly be aware.

Here is the official list of do’s and don’ts:

  1. People are prohibited from accessing, moving about in and staying in any kind of forest space, including established forest paths, rural tracks and any paths or tracks that cross them. This means people who regularly walk in forest areas, or jog/ exercise/ take their children to established picnicking areas or playgrounds CANNOT DO SO while the Situation of Alert is in place – which for now is until next Friday July 15.
  2. Any kind of rural burn-off/ burning is prohibited.
  3. All work in rural areas using machinery, blades or metal disks, is prohibited, with exception of machinery used in firefighting situations.
  4. The use of simple things like lawnmowers in rural areas, strimmers, shredders etc all prohibited as they can cause sparks, and sparks can lead to fires…
  5. Total ban on use of fireworks, and suspension of any permits that have been issued for such.

Situation of Alert prohibitions do not cover:

  • Works associated with feeding and watering of animals, phytosanitary or fertilization treatment, watering, pruning, harvesting and transport of agricultural crops – provided they are essential and unavoidable and take place within irrigated areas, devoid of forestry, shrubs or flammable material;
  • Extraction of cork by manual methods and extraction of honey (as long as this is carried out without recourse to fumigation methods obtained by incandescent material or temperature generator);
  • Construction works, provided that they are unavoidable and take place with adequate rural fire risk mitigation measures in place;

The decree of a Situation of Alert allows for:

  • An increase in the degree of readiness and operational response by the GNR and PSP, with reinforcement of means for surveillance, supervision, patrols on disruptive behaviour and general support to protection and relief operations that might become necessary;
  • An increase in the degree of readiness and mobilization of emergency medical teams, public health and psycho-social support, by the competent entities;
  • Standing mobilization of Forestry Sapper teams;
  • Permanent mobilization of the National Corps of Forest Officers and Nature Watchers;
  • Increased level of readiness of response teams of entities with special duty of cooperation in the areas of communications (landline and mobile network operators) and energy (transportation and distribution);

The above advice can be found on the Forest Fire Alert (Alerta de Incéndio Florestal) Facebook page, run in English by an admirable team of volunteers. This page is the absolute ‘go to’ for information on fires throughout the summer. It is hard to understand how the region ever did without it.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com