Vila Real de Santo António firefighters already have a pioneering financing model in the country

The City Council and the Humanitarian Association of Voluntary Firefighters of Vila Real de Santo António signed, on Saturday, a […]

On Saturday, the Municipal Council and the Humanitarian Association of Voluntary Firefighters of Vila Real de Santo António signed a protocol of collaboration to ensure the defense and security of the populations and municipal assets. 

The agreement is also intended to ensure the sustainability of the fire department, which will be ensured by the new Municipal Civil Protection Tax, a contribution that is being reflected in the monthly water bill - issued by the municipal company Sociedade de Gestão Urbana (SGU) - and which has a symbolic value of one euro.

The measure – already approved by the Municipal Assembly – is unprecedented in the country and will contribute to ensuring the stability of the humanitarian association of firefighters in Vila Real, which will have a financing model suited to the needs and not just based on subsidy. On the other hand, it ensures the continuity of assistance services to the population of Vila Real.

The creation of the Municipal Civil Protection Tax is based on a petition, delivered to the City Council, where there were more than 500 signatures and an appeal was made for the monthly collection of a sum that would revert, in full, to Civil Protection and Firefighters.

«We were pioneers in the country to apply this financing model that, without putting too much burden on families, gives stability to a noble and essential service to the municipality. If we take into account an aggregate of four people, we are talking about a symbolic contribution of 25 cents per member», notes Chamber President Luís Gomes.

«As in health and social solidarity, the municipality of Vila Real opens a new paradigm that is about to be followed in other parts of the country, and several municipalities have already asked the City Council for information on the application model for the Municipal Civil Protection Tax », says Luís Gomes.

For the president of the Humanitarian Association of Firefighters of VRSA José Neto, "this is another step to keep the corporation functioning, overcome the difficulties that almost paralyzed us and maintain the interests of the population."

Also present at the signing of the protocol, the president of the Federation of Firefighters of the Algarve Teodósio Carrilho understands that the agreement signed between the Chamber and the firefighters «is a giant step towards bringing firefighters and local authorities closer together». At the same time, he calls for the example of Vila Real to be “followed by all national fire brigades, in order to ensure its sustainability”.

The Municipal Civil Protection Tax is supported by Law no. 53-E/2006, of December 29, which expressly provides for the possibility of creating fees for the provision of services in the field of risk prevention and civil protection. It is also intended to offset investments made in defending the forest against fire.

The Humanitarian Association of Voluntary Firefighters of Vila Real de Santo António simultaneously serves the municipalities of VRSA and Castro Marim, a unique case in the country.