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Firefighters, Ibanat form united front against local blazes

foto junts contra el focThe president's office of the Formentera Council reported today on joint training sessions conducted this week with the island's fire brigade, staff of the Balearic Islands bureau of the environment (Ibanat) and an agent from the Council's Office of Environment. The goal, explained fire chief Iván Marí, “is to ensure the entities in charge of fire containment and prevention on Formentera are ready to provide a protocol-based coordinated response should fires occur.”

Starting on Monday, August 8, with one first-response vehicle in tow, four members of Ibanat's Formentera crew took part in a forest fire simulation. The crew was joined by the CiF environment agent, who acted as head of extinguishing efforts, as well as four CiF firefighters, who made use of two large water pumps and a second first-response vehicle. The training happened between sa Roqueta and es Pujols and was a chance for participants to practise handling fire hoses and other gear. Marí said the day concluded with the trainees “sharing experiences in an effort to improve their response in real wildfires”.

Besides enhancing their own inter-office coordination, participants were reminded about how to use Formentera's code-based system of geolocation. The local fire brigade consists of six employees: four professional staff and two that are on-call. The firefighters carry out daily inspections and work with Ibanat agents to ensure individuals are on the street doing prevention work when wildfire risk is at its greatest. Marí took the opportunity to ask residents all to do their part to reduce the risk of fires, especially given the current high-level of alert on the island.

Formal dissolution of Formentera development group now under way

rsz reunio junta rectora cfdToday, Wednesday August 3, the directive board of Consorci Formentera Desenvolupament (“Formentera development consortium”) convened in the plenary hall of the Formentera Council. After the meeting, CiF president Jaume Ferrer and Bartomeu Escandell, councillor of the president's office, spoke before members of the press.

The president explained how representatives of the CiF, the Govern Balear and the Eivissa Council “have begun administrative and legal proceedings to dissolve the consortium”.

The group was created in 2001 to secure funding sources (particularly from the Palma government and the then integrated Council of Eivissa and Formentera) and drive investment to mitigate Formentera's deficit. In Ferrer's words, “the group served an important purpose and the Formentera Council will now assume full control of its administration and investments”.

“Today we started taking administrative steps to ultimately achieve the group's definitive dissolution,” he added. The consortium's directive body green lighted the start of dissolution proceedings, which, according to Ferrer, “will be effective before year-end”.

For his part, Councillor Escandell said the process was in tune with the CiF's policy of “streamlining administrative processes by avoiding expenditures such as those related to staffing and rent”.

Formentera firefighters map out emergency routes

Foto servei bombersCiF president's office head Bartomeu Escandell and Iván Marí, chief of Formentera's fire brigade, unveiled a series of changes in the firefighting service this summer. Escandell highlighted the recent hire of an additional full-time employee, which brought the brigade's number of staff to six, four full-time professionals and two on-call workers.

Said Escandell: “For the first time our firefighters are carrying out regular daily patrols, coordinated with agents of the regional ecology bureau, to ensure we have people on the streets overseeing preventive measures at those times when wildfire risk is highest”. The brigade has two fire engines and a pick-up truck fitted with a water tank and hose. Escandell, who also reported on plans to acquire a second such truck in August, said smaller vehicles like pick-ups were useful for situations in which rapid response is important.

According to the fire chief, Formentera firefighters have intervened 69 times in 2016, eight times fewer than the same dates last year. He said that decline also reflected a drop in brush fire interventions, which went from 12 to 6. Marí referred to the new GPS system in place for geolocating remote homes on the island, saying the scheme had already made a noticeable difference in the brigade's ability to arrive quickly at the scene of emergencies. Councillor Escandell took the opportunity to ask islanders to their help preventing wildfires.

Council unveils new inspection service

Presentacio cos inspeccioToday, on the steps of the Casa Consistorial, the Formentera Council rolled out its new inspection service. At the event were CiF president's office councillor Bartomeu Escandell, councillor of land, tourism and trade Alejandra Ferrer and environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, along with the inspection staff and two recently hired members of the Formentera police force.

Pointing out that the inspection service had been in place for shortly over a week, Councillor Ferrer described the division's role: “To ensure businesses' proper use of public walkways and to enforce the island's ban on 'dynamic publicity'”. Another new endeavour: active monitoring of web-based tourist services, a move it is hoped will assist in articulating long-term protocol.

Ferrer said these first months would be spent “tracking patterns and gathering information” so the Council could adapt regulations to the particular needs that pop up. The inspection service team is composed of nine workers, five enforcement agents, three inspectors and one coordinator. In the coming weeks two new controllers will join the service's ranks.

Environment advocates
Three of the enforcement agents are staff of Formentera's Office of Environment. Department head Daisee Aguilera highlighted the addition this summer of an extra staff member to the inspection crew, who will coordinate activity between Council departments. The three agents —or 'environment advocates'— will be tasked with “supervising correct waste disposal, carrying out checks of beaches and waterfront concession services”. As Aguilera pointed out, this year's inspection service also includes an outreach person for environmental issues. Inspection service workers will have use of the electric Meharis that Citroën recently donated to the island.

Greater police presence
For his part, Councillor Escandell of the president's office introduced two Formentera police officers that started work on July 1. He said the force's expansion reflected a desire by the Council to “lighten the load placed on the local Formentera police force.” Furthermore, he explained that the service, whose staff positions are filled by Council employees, was aimed at “coordinating inspection efforts, checks and safety efforts to ensure rules are upheld and Formentera continues to be a place that balances leisure with tranquility”.

Briefing on inspection service

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 5 at 1.00pm, the Formentera Council (CiF) will unveil the administration's new inspection service (Servei d'Inspecció) on the steps of the municipal building, la Casa Consistorial. The presentation will be led by Bartomeu Escandell, president's office councillor, Alejandra Ferrer, councillor of land, and Daisee Aguilera, environment councillor, and will be followed by a media briefing in the plenary hall.

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