Greek firefighters remember dead

Hundreds join Athens protest demanding better equipment and conditions.

    Firefighers battling the summer's fires complained of a lack of equipment and staff [Reuters]

    Hundreds of Greek firefighters have marched through Athens to honour those lost in this summer's fires and to demand better conditions.

     

    The silent march was intended as a criticism of the government's handling of the worst fires the country has seen in living memory.

     

    The marchers carried a banner reading "You burned them – we buried them".

     

    It included photographs of firefighters that died in the recent fires, alongside 22 others that have died over the last 12 years in the course of their work.

     

    The protesters laid wreaths at Athens' 
    tomb of the unknown soldier [Reuters]
    Last month devastating forest fires, mainly in the Peloponnese region, killed 65 people and destroyed thousands of acres of forest and fields.

     

    Firemen complained of a lack of equipment and staff during the blazes.

     

    The protestors are demanding longer contracts and better equipment.

     

    Marching through the Greek capital, the protesters took their march to the headquarters of the two main political parties competing in elections to be held on Sunday.

     

    Some 5,500 seasonal firefighters work during the peak fire season which lasts from about May to October.

     

    In the wake of last month's fires when the service was overwhelmed by the number of blazes the firefighters are demanding longer and more full time contracts.

     

    The government has said it is ready to renew the firefighters current contracts for the next five years, but the seasonal firefighters want more permanency during the year.

     

    They are also demanding better equipment to do their jobs properly, which they say is inadequate.

     

    "Our equipment is meagre, very meagre. Half of us work with uniforms that are flammable, others are slow burning. We don't have helmets, gloves or masks. We go into fires not knowing if we will come out alive," said firefighter Kyriaki Vassiliko.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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