Staff Reporter
THE Council of Majorca's fire-fighting forces which were allocated a budget of 7'840'635 euros during 2003 when their staffing levels were increased by 40 percent, attended a total of 3'535 emergency calls throughout the course of last year, some 5 percent more than 2002. The majority of these incidents were fire outbreaks of various kinds.
The details form part of an annual report presented yesterday by the director of the Council's Technical Services and Emergency department, María José Rodríguez, and by Antoni Pascual, a deputy of the Council's Public Works department. This document, which reports on the work carried out by the fire-fighting forces over the year, shows that the budget allocated to this service increased by nearly 22 percent in 2003, since it amounted to 7'840'634 euros, while in 2002, a lower figure of 6'437'404 euros had been made available. This increase enabled 40 percent more staff to be added to the force, rising from 140 in 2002 to 176 in 2003.
Furthermore, an investment was made to modernise and reform the fire stations on the Island, and purchase state-of-the-art equipment, including new specialised vehicles. Examining the year's activities, the report shows that Majorca's fire-fighting forces responded to 4'031 emergency calls, the great majority of which were in Calvia (14.84 percent); Manacor (10.10 percent); and Llucmajor (8.66 percent); the districts with the highest population levels. In terms of emergencies, the forces attended a total of 3'535, five percent less than in 2002 according to Council of Majorca sources and which, for the most part were fires of varying kinds, fallen trees, false alarms, floods and traffic accidents. Pascual highlighted the support that the Council of Majorca gave to the firemen in terms of funding and professional confidence.
He gave prominence to the growth of this service since it was created in 1984, the year in which the forces only attended incidences of forest fire while nowadays, they go to all types of disasters, amongst them, mountain rescue and traffic accidents. In this regard, the deputy praised the speed with which Majorca's firemen rushed to the scene of traffic accidents to rescue people trapped inside their vehicles. Rodríguez explained the importance of having upgraded the specialised fire-fighting equipment in 2003, which aided the professional team in avoiding unnecessary risks during the course of their potentially dangerous work. The director added yesterday that the equipment which was used by the Island's firemen prior to recent investment in improvements and new material, will now be used by fire-fighting forces in Nicaragua. Thanks to the way the older equipment was maintained in such good order, it can still be used very effectively.

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