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Balearic high court refuses to back former Formentera firefighter's claims of wrongful termination

The Balearic Islands' highest court, the Tribunal Superior de Justícia, or TSJIB, issued a rejection of the wrongful termination claim by Rubén Castellar Lozano and overturned a previous ruling requiring the administration to satisfy Castellar's demand of €10,143 in unpaid wages.

Castellar worked for the Formentera Council from March 7, 2016 to January 31, 2017, the day the former firefighter determined he would stop work. However, Castellar arrived at work with his lawyer and a notary on the day in question claiming no knowledge of any agreement to that effect. At that time he filed a claim saying his termination had been invalid.

On that point, the TSJIB declared it had sufficient proof “the Castellar communicated he did not wish to renew his employment contract. In line with this, his employment came to an end by voluntary resignation and not a unilateral decision by the hiring entity”.

Repealed as well is an earlier ruling's requirement the Council provide Castellar unpaid wages, as the firefighter sought to benefit from a convention for which he was not eligible. The court ruled “the plaintiff's wages were those set by his employment contract”, and declared that “a collective agreement for personnel of the Illes Balears administration is not applicable because [the hiring party] is not part of the Balearic administration; it has its own administration”.

Reserve staff

The firefighter also filed a 2014 suit against the Formentera Council claiming entitlement to employment given his place on the administration's list of reserve staff. He won the suit when the court ruled the plaintiff should have started work summer 2014, not March 2016, and Castellar successfully lobbied for compensation despite services not rendered.

Balearic public prosecutor declines to back suit alleging Council breached basic rights

In response to accusations that the Formentera Council failed to uphold fundamental rights, the public prosecutor's office declared it was “of the opinion no rights were violated” and recommended the suit's dismissal.

In a written opinion sent to the judge assigned the case, the prosecutor states “there is no indication” the Formentera Council intended to prevent the plaintiff from participating in union activity. On the contrary, she wrote, such participation “apparently took place with no impediment”.

The prosecutor's letter followed a complaint made public November 5 by the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, or “General Union of Workers”). The related suit was ultimately filed not by the union, but by José Ramón Mateos Martín instead.

The Council's senior legal officials are keeping a prudent tack in light of the developments, not least since the prosecutor's position does not amount to resolution of the case. The suit is scheduled for hearing in October. The Council's staff of lawyers and specialists nevertheless applaud the prosecutor's understanding of the administration's effort to uphold the law.

Elderly man found safe and sound in es Ram area

foto dispositiu es ram 2The president's office of the Formentera Council reports that at roughly 7.00pm on Sunday the island's emergency apparatus was activated when a 112 caller alerted the authorities that a 90-year-old man had gone missing in the area of sa Talaiassa. The man had gone out walking at 5.00pm and had yet to return home, leaving his family quite worried.

A search-and-rescue plan was immediately put in motion that involved a dozen Civil Protection volunteers, a pair of two-person Guardia Civil units, two members of the Council fire brigade, and a group of a dozen relatives, friends and acquaintances that took to the man's usual walking routes in an effort to locate him.

Shortly before 8.00pm a group of Civil Protection volunteers and a canine helper picked up the man's scent and located him near camí des Ram. Formentera firefighters took charge of transporting the man, conscious and in good health but for a case of the chills, to hospital.

This is the second search operation in the last week on Formentera. Last week another person went missing in es Cap. The two operations have proven the Civil Protection forces to be a large, fast-acting corps of volunteers capable of collaborating with the island's other emergency response teams in giving islanders and visitors a quality, not to mention altruistic and professional, service.

Formentera stacks fire brigade for success

foto 2018 bombersThe president's office of the Formentera Council announces the basic firefighting training course has come to a close. Designed to give individuals collaborating with the fire brigade a taste of the realities of work in the field, the training sessions took place here on the island December 10 to 22.

Thirteen aspiring firefighters successfully completed the course and competitive process of selection to enter the administration's pool of qualified collaborators. Of that number two have already been hired on by the brigade, which presently comprises seven staff employees, five full-time firefighting personnel and two on-call workers.

Efforts in 2018
The crew were called to duty a total of 183 times in 2018. Twenty-five of those actions were fire-related; 14 involved search and rescue and another 26, false alarms; 50 and 68 were the tallies of operations giving technical assistence and preventive help.

Bartomeu Escandell, secretary of the president's office, said the number of blazes in 2018 had dropped by half compared to the same figure in 2017 and contended the dip had allowed the brigade to boost preventive action such as with buffer zones in wooded areas like la Mola. In high fire-risk parts of the island, so-called “mobile forest patrol routes” are another feature of service receiving the brigade's increased attention.

The past year came with four blazes in areas of vegetation that affected 70 square metres — compared to approximately 30 hectares incinerated in 2017 as a result of the three wildfires in Cala Saona.

New equipment
Another important piece of news this last year was the Balearic port authority's hand-off of a six-person, water pump-equipped light lorry with capacity for 1,800L, is designed both for fighting fires and lifesaving and rescue operations. At the moment the brigade's mobile corps is composed of two rapid response vehicles (both pickups), a heavy lorry for rural operations and a light lorry for urban ones.

Local firefighters tackle beginnings of chimney fire

foto 122018 incendi 2Formentera firefighters were called into action Thursday to put out a small fire in a single-family dwelling in Porto Saler.

112 notified the brigade of the flames, confined to the home's chimney, shortly before 3.00pm. A three-man crew riding in the fire engine was joined by two local police and a number of civil protection officers.

The first responders came on the smoke-filled scene and proceeded, though not before verifying no injuries were suffered nor serious damage incurred, to air out the residence.

When the chimney cooled, a decomposing bird carcass was removed that had hindered proper ventilation, led to stray sparks in the duct and obstructed the flue.

The operation was completed within twenty-five minutes after the call was received.

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