Fire Safety Advice for the Algarve

Whether you are on holiday in the Algarve have recently moved here or have live here it’s always good to make sure you are doing what you can to prevent a fire. Below are some great tips as well as links useful documents.

Fire Season

The fire season here in Portugal is fast approaching and if trend follows like previous years the Bombeiros of Portugal are preparing for a very busy time. Fire season (15th May-15th October) is a period in Portugal where extra personnel are drafted into fire station and dedicated fire teams are setup on a 24/7 basis.

As per the ICNF (Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas), The  onservation Institute of Nature and Forests) in Portugal, shows in their 9th and latest Provisional Report issued by the Managing Department of Public Areas and Forest Protection n. RIF09/2016 dated from the 1st of January to the 15th of October 2016 the following statistics:
The National data base for forest fires registered in the period between the 1st of January and the 15th of October 2016 a total of 13,076 occurrences (2,677 Forest Fires and 10,402 smaller fires) or (Fogachos) as they are called, meaning a fire that doesn’t incur more than a hectare of burned area.
A total area equal or superior to 100 hectares is considered as a big forest fire, up to the 15th of October 2016
,194 fires fell into this category, 138,885 hectares of forest space was burned.
Of these 160,490 hectares burned, 85,785 of were in populated areas and 74,705 unpopulated. Comparing 2016 numbers with the statistics of the last 10 years it has been established a 25% drop in occurrences, however the burned areas have had a double increase compared to 2015/16 reports.
The most affected area was Aveiro with 41,620 hectares, making a total 26% of Portugal’s burned Forest, followed by Viana do Castelo with 32,501. In the Faro district the(Fogachos) amounted to 171,16 and 16 big areas, making it a total 191 fires. The total loss between populated and unpopulated areas resulted in 5,728
burned hectares of forest/land.
The adverse weather conditions that favour the propagation of Forest Fires which were felt in July/August/September 2016, being August the worst. Thus, the ANPC issued a special 41 day yellow or orange
alert to the Special Units that Combat Forest Fires, the (Dispositivo de Combate a Incêndios Florestais),
(DECIF).
Full information and its compressive areas report can be found in Portuguese at:
http://www.icnf.pt/portal/florestas/dfci/Resource/doc/rel/2016/9-rel-prov-1jan-15out-2016pdf
As per a Nasa report, 2016 has been recorded for being the worst fire season in recent history in Portugal. In
the entire EU, during the 2016 wildfire season 536,200 acres were burned and 286,600 of those have been
within Portugal.
You can find this report at:
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2016/portugal-fire-season-worst-in-recent-history

Apicture of a pie chart showinf the cause of forest fires

Algarve Fire Safety Advice

The following is fire safety advice regarding forest fires, and for people living in areas that may be affected by forest fires, if anybody would like general fire safety advice regarding your home please feel free to contact: stephenwhitehorn@yahoo.com.

Do you know the basic steps to prepare for forest fires?

You don’t have to live in forested area to be threatened by a forest fire.

  • Just close enough to be affected by burning materials, embers and smoke.
  • It’s too late to start planning as a fire is approaching.
  • Prepare your property and family now, so everyone knows what action to take.
A Picture of a man strimming in preperation of fire season

Protect your Home and Structures

  • Clear leaves, twigs, bark and other debris from the roof and gutters.
  • Enclose open areas under decks and floors.
  • Point LPG cylinder relief valves away from the house.
  • Conduct maintenance checks on pumps, generators and water systems.
  • Seal all gaps in external roof and wall cladding.

If you intend to clean your land by burning (lighting a fire) it is important to contact the local
Bombeiros to check first that the conditions are acceptable and whether any special conditions apply.
Remember when the fire risk is “Very High” or “Extreme” and during the Critical Fire Period” normally
1st July to 30th September no burning is permitted. Further information on this can be found at
http://www.safecommunitiesportugal.com/civil-protection/

Clear Vegetation

  • Reduce vegetation loads along the access path.
  • Mow your grass regularly.
  • Remove excess ground fuels and combustible material (long dry grass, dead leaves and branches).
  •  Trim low-lying branches two metres from the ground surrounding your home.

Adequate Access

  • Display a prominent house name or lot number, in case it is required in an emergency.
  • Ensure there is adequate access to your property for fire trucks – 4 metres wide by 4 metres high, with
    a turn-around area if possible.

Personal Safety

Check that you have sufficient personal protective clothing and equipment.
Relocate flammable items away from your home, including woodpiles, paper, boxes, crates, hanging baskets and garden furniture.
Check the first aid kit is fully stocked. Make sure you have appropriate insurance for your home and vehicles

Will you leave early?

If you plan to leave early, then you must leave your home well before a forest fire threatens and travelling by
road becomes hazardous.
It is recommended that you have an Evacuation Kit to ensure you and your family have important items and
equipment required to relocate for the time needed.

  • Clothing for you and your family
  • Bottled water (enough for all)
  • Mobile phone and charger (if owned)
  • Passports & birth certificates
  • Medications if being used
  • If time and space permits Family photos, valuables & documents

Your property should be well-prepared for the fire, even if you intend to leave early.

Will you stay?

Preparation is the key to survival. Being involved in a fire will be one of the most traumatic experiences of your
life. You will need to be mentally and physically ready and you will need to have a plan.
In making your decision to stay there are a few things you need to consider. Is your property able to withstand
the impact of a forest fire? Do you have well-maintained resources and equipment and do you know how to
use them? Clearly understand what you will do to protect your property and life when the fire arrives and
discuss details of your plan with family, friends and neighbours.

Prepare for the approaching fire

See section above, your property should be well-prepared.

A well-prepared property
stands a greater chance of surviving.

  • Move vehicles away from property
  • Remove garden furniture, door mats and other items
  • Close windows and doors and shut blinds/shutters
  • Take down curtains and move furniture away from windows
  • Seal gaps under doors and windows with wet towels
  • Wet down the sides of buildings, decks and close shrubbery in the likely path of the bushfire
  • If you have a garden sprinkler system turn on for 30 minutes before the fire arrives
  • Fill containers with water – baths, sinks, buckets, wheelie bins
  • Tune in to warnings to monitor local radio, websites or social media for updates
  • Disconnect any LPG (Propane/Butane) cylinders and move away from property, if you have a swimming pool or an open water source then submerge cylinder

As the fire front arrives:

  • Go inside for shelter
  • Drink lots of water
  • Shelter in your house on the opposite side of the approaching fire
  • Patrol and check for embers inside, particularly in any roof space if applicable
  • Constantly check on family and pets
  • Always maintain a means of escape
  • Continually monitor conditions.

After the fire has passed, check for small spot fires and embers:

  • Inside any roof space
  • On veranda’s and decking
  • On window ledges and door sills
  • In gutters
  • In garden beds and mulch
  • In wood heaps
  • Around outdoor furniture.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms provide a vital early warning and can allow extra time to escape if there is a fire in your home. Sometimes called smoke detectors, you need multiple, linked smoke alarms for your property to be properly covered. For example, if a smoke alarm is only fitted in the hallway, should a fire start in the bedroom the occupant’s life may already be at risk before the alarm would activate.

There are many different types of smoke alarms available including strobe light and vibrating-pad alarms for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, joint smoke and carbon monoxide, and mainspowered alarms.
It is recommended fitting smoke alarms that come with a 10-year long-lasting sealed battery, this will alleviate the need of battery changing

Fitting smoke alarms

As a minimum, you should have at least one device fitted on the ceiling of every floor in your home, however, it is recommended you fit one in every room you regularly use as well as in the hallway. Ideal locations for smoke alarms include rooms where electrical equipment is left switched on, such
as living rooms or bedrooms.  As well as fitting smoke alarms in your home, you should also fit a heat detector. These are designed
for use in the kitchen and go off when a certain temperature is reached.
Do not place smoke alarms in kitchens or bathrooms as the steam can damage the unit or unintentionally activate it. You should also avoid fitting the devices on walls as this could result in a delay in the alarm activating because of the smoke needing to travel along the ceiling and down the
walls. Always read the instructions that come with the alarm for further fitting information.
Most fires in the home start accidentally and ensuring you have working smoke alarms in your home will provide a vital early warning for danger.
That is why it is important and essential to test them every month to make sure they are all in good working order.

 

  • Do not try to replace the battery on a 10-year long-lasting smoke alarm.
  • Dispose of the device and replace it.
  • Never disconnect or take the batteries out of your alarms.
  • If your smoke alarms beep on a regular basis, change the battery immediately.
  • Test your smoke alarms regularly

Emergency Contact Numbers

Portugal Emergency Number is 112

Call this number for Police, Ambulance and the Fire Brigade in Portugal

Portugal Forest Fire Emergency Number is 117

Call this number if you see a potetntial Forest fire in Portugal

Contact Us by email

4 + 3 =

People can donate to the associacao  via the paypal bombeirosalgarve@gmail.com or our bank account, Iban  PT50-0033-0000-45499091213-05.