A message from Dimitris Maniatis, volunteer firefighter (VFU IRO) and news correspondent:
Athens, Greece, October 8, 2011 – In 1991 legislation introducing the volunteer fire service was passed in parliament allowing Greek civilians to serve their country and communities through the Hellenic Fire Service.
This was made possible through the provisions of Law No.1951/1991 that was unanimously voted by all the members of Parliament.
2011 might be the end of the volunteer firefighting movement in Greece.
20 years have taught them much through action and substance about the best ways to utilize the numbers, knowledge and experience gained on the field.
For the past 2 years the Hellenic Volunteer Firefighters Union has been working hand in hand with the Hellenic Fire Service to reform Law No. 1951/1991 so that it can best serve the needs of the community and the nation.
The reformed law was accepted by the Ministry of Citizen Protection (the political body of the government that overlooks the security services including the fire service) and as the Greek constitution demands was brought forward for public debate.
The results of the public debate were all in favor of the reforms proposed.
September 29th 2011, was the date that the first draft of the revised law was sent by the legal department of the Hellenic Fire Service to the House of Parliament for its first reading by the committee.
Disbelief and utter shock came after seeing that this document had nothing in common with the original text of the new reformed law.
All the work and expertise that had been put in to making this reform a positive and functional development for the firefighting community were deleted.
Sections of the draft that are of primary concern are as follows:
- All funding towards volunteer fire stations will be stopped.
- Volunteer firefighters will receive questionable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) not of the same technical standards as career staff.
- Volunteer firefighters will be required to wear inferior uniforms.
- Volunteer firefighters role will become supplementary.
- Volunteer firefighters will not be excused from their work place in order to participate in incidents and won’t have legal protection from their employers.
Laws are reformed and revised so that they can become better, up to date and have the best possible impact on the community they serve and not vice versa.
If this draft is voted by the MP`s, Greece will have a non functional volunteer fire service leaving the country with an ill defense against fire and loss of life and assets.
The global firefighting brotherhood should be informed that Greek volunteer firefighters are battling a new a rage against common sense.
The problems Greece face are not based solely on the Economy, they are based primarily in the destruction of the moral fiber and the loss of pure common sense that our government and politicians are showing.
Greek volunteer firefighters will fight with all their strength and power for what they believe is best for their country and nation and if God willing they will prevail.