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Formentera fire brigade called into duty 27 times in 2015

RP bombers premsaPresidential cabinet councillor Bartomeu Escandell and chief of the fire brigade (els Bombers de Formentera) Iván Marí stood before members of the press today to report on the brigade’s work this year since January. As Escandell highlighted, the work of Formentera’s local firefighters deserves all the more merit this year because «despite the unusually dry weather, we were able to avert any major fires». The councillor also extended his thanks to the Ibanat (Institut Balear de la Natura), local civil protection services, the Guárdia Civil and the Formentera local police, as well as the island’s water transport companies for allowing the brigade to use their fleets at different times throughout the year.

Councillor Escandell reminded reporters of the Formentera Council’s collaboration on wildfire risk awareness campaigns devised to teach the «little steps that people can take – not throwing cigarette butts out the window – to prevent tragedies from happening in our region». The Council also takes part in other outreach campaigns, explained Escandell, like one last year that expounded the importance of creating barriers to stop flames from spreading around houses that border Formentera’s heavily-wooded areas.

A hectare of scorched land
For his part, brigade chief Marí reported that from the start of the year until 30 September his firefighters have been called into duty 102 times, five more than the same period last year. Of those incidents, 27 were fires. Seventeen of the fires were in areas of shrubbery or other vegetation – a common occurrence, he assured, during a year «made especially dangerous by the dry spell».

The brigade predicts this year nearly one hectare of land has been burned, with blazes in the majority of those incidents caused by still-lit cigarette ends. Marí called Formentera’s recent rains «a welcome change», but asserted: «We need to remain vigilant. The wildfire risk on the island is always there».

Special vigilance in Es Ram area
Among the firefighters’ different calls to duty this summer, especially harrowing was the trio of wildfires that swept through the same area of Es Ram in mid and late July. In consequence, the brigade coordinated regular passes through that part of the island throughout the summer, splitting the work between the Bombers, Protecció Civil (civil protection services) and Ibanat crews.

Els Bombers de Formentera comprise four staff members: two full-time, one part-time and a fourth who is on-call. They have a fleet of vehicles which consists of a pickup truck and two fire engines – as Councillor Escandell notes, «the Council opted for rapid-response – and not especially large – vehicles in its goal for effective fire control». He reminded the audience at the press conference that, barring any changes, the official high-risk period of the summer season will end 15 October. Pursuant to the municipal code, after that date controlled fires will once again be permitted.

Farmland reserve swells to more than 100 hectares

rp cens terresThe councillor of rural affairs, Bartomeu Escandell, explained today that after six months in operation, the Cens de Terres de Cultiu programme (roughly translated as 'farmland reserve') has acquired 105 hectares for cultivation this winter by the Formentera farmers' collective. Escandell thanked Formentera residents for participating by donating their unused land, which will now serve for the further beautification of the Formentera countryside and —quite literally— bear the fruits that will revive the primary sector of the local economy.

The councillor encouraged other owners of unused plots to cede them for tilling by the farmers' cooperative. He noted that donated plots typically remain in the cooperative's possession for a period of three to five years and that, in addition to being cost-free for the owners, the process results in material returns — «including money saved on maintenance costs, improvements to the land and discounts on products and services from the cooperative».

Developing the agricultural sector
Councillor Escandell emphasised the goal of the cooperative is to «provide local products for the farmers' market, streamline the revival of Formentera's primary sector and supply the service sector». In 2015, the Formentera Council put forward €95,000 to fund the start of activity at the cooperative. The group also required an investment of €590,000 — a third of the money came from the Leader programme and the rest were provided by the Formentera Council — to fund construction of the group's warehouse space, which Escandell announced would be ready before year end.

For his part, Carlos Marí, the cooperative's head manager, explained that 46 property owners have signed up for the reserve, with the 105 hectares of donated land coming from a total of 68 different plots. Mr Marí explained that the cooperative is currently getting the land ready for sowing operations in November and December. According to the group's head, plans are to sow mostly local flora, including barley and wheat. He confided: «The objective is to supply local stockbreeders with the feed they currently must buy from non-local sources», thus reaching self-sufficiency for the island's livestock animal feed.

Firefighters bring under control 150-sq.-metre blaze in Es Brolls

Incendi Es BrollsThe Formentera fire brigade classified as “under control” a wildfire that broke out next to a eight-metre-long motor home and its neighbouring patio. Before being put out, the flames had burned through a total of 150 square metres, nine of which were laden with Savina junipers.

Notice of the fire came at 10:54 in the evening from an off-shoot of the Es Brolls country road in Sant Ferran and by one in the morning firefighters declared the blaze under control. Brigade members, who declared the cause of the incident to be unknown, highlighted that no injuries were reported. At the scene of the emergency were three Formentera firefighters, members of the local police, civil protection forces, the Guárdia Civil and Ibanat.

On car free day, bus users ride no charge

dia sense cotxe premsaToday, Tuesday 22 September, the Formentera Council's office of transport feted European Car Free Day. All day long, to mark the occasion, ticket requirements were waived on bus lines 1 and 2 and —as transport councillor Rafael González explained— this morning organisers pitched an exhibition of electric vehicles at the plaça de la Constitució in Sant Francesc.

Promoting a sustainable island
González declared that the goal of the two actions had been to «strive for sustainable transport on the island, and to make this something that sets us apart». The dimensions of Formentera, said the councillor, «make it the ideal island for the promotion of these kinds of vehicles, which are increasingly feasible».

«This is exactly why the administration has long been behind the effort to promote their use», he elaborated. González highlighted some of the advantages of electric cars: parking in blue and green zones of la Savina and access to the Parc Natural de Ses Illetes that are both free of charge, as well as a 75% reduction on the local circulation tax.

Network of recharge points
In due form, the Formentera Council has built up a network of 12 electric vehicle recharge stations, scattered across the different urban centres of the island. With the totality of the costs met by the administration, the stations allow 28 drivers to charge their automobiles completely free.

The day's exhibition of electric cars and scooters enjoyed the participation of two of the three Formentera businesses that have made important investments in sustainable transport, Cooltra and Europcar. Also on display were an electric scooter from the Formentera Local Police vehicle fleet and an electric bicycle available to Council staff. Residents and tourists alike were given the opportunity to get a close-up look at how the two vehicles work.

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Sr. Isidor Torres
Tel. 971 32 23 09
premsa@conselldeformentera.cat