CTIF vice president Christophe Marchal interviewed about the European wildfire situation
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As Europe's firefighters get back to normal duties after another devastating wildfire season, union leaders say investment in more staff and forest firefighting equipment is urgently needed, especially in Mediterranean countries.
In an October 30th article on Context News, an array of leaders within Europe are interviewed. From Greece to France, union leaders say more staff and equipment are needed as climate change makes their jobs more dangerous.
CTIF vice president Christophe Marchal was interviewed in his role as the vice president of the National Federation of French Firefighters:
Volunteer firefighters - whose training is equivalent to professional firefighters - are paid a base rate of between 8-12 euros ($8.49-$12.73) per hour and assist in all types of operations from floods and fires to road accidents.
However, as their workload increases, partly due to climate change impacts, they are being over-stretched, said Christophe Marchal, vice-president of the National Federation of French Firefighters.
"With the challenges ahead we won't be able to cope without more firefighters," he said, adding that France would need at least 250,000 volunteers by 2027 to sustain operations, representing an increase of 50,000 from 2022.
A summary of the article on Context News:
Union leaders in European countries, particularly in the Mediterranean region, are advocating for increased investment in personnel and equipment for firefighters. They argue that climate change has made their jobs more dangerous due to the increased workload and health risks associated with combating massive summer wildfires and responding to other disasters like floods. The lack of resources is taking a toll on the morale and capacity of firefighters.
One Italian firefighter and union representative, Raffaele Cozzolino, highlighted the urgent need for additional firefighters in Italy and expressed concerns about occupational diseases such as cancer. Despite the growing risks posed by climate change, the number of professional firefighters in the European Union (EU) has not increased proportionally. In some countries, the number of firefighters is actually decreasing.
While the EU invests in firefighting planes to address wildfire challenges, there is a call for more cooperation among member states. Union leaders emphasize the need for additional funding for fire services and equipment, including personal protective gear suitable for different types of operations. Some countries, like Greece, are facing an exodus of staff due to poor working conditions and an aging workforce.
In rural France, volunteer firefighters play a significant role, but they are increasingly over-stretched due to climate change impacts. There is a growing need for both volunteers and highly skilled professionals to address the challenges ahead.
Union leaders are not only seeking an increase in the number of firefighters but also advocate for better training and equipment to prepare firefighters for the growing risks associated with their work. The proposal for a multinational corps of firefighters with optimal staffing levels, training, and equipment has been suggested to tackle the consequences of climate change and ensure acceptable working standards for firefighters.