Forest firefighters: heroes without protection

On December 31, at midnight, most of them enjoyed the fabulous colors of fireworks with their families. However, high up in the Sierra de Bahoruco, a handful of lonely men came face to face with the royal, immense and devastating jurisdiction.

They are a small group, in the whole country they do not reach 70, That is why they have to constantly move from mountain to mountain, from fire to fire: they simply cannot cope. On December 30, the fatal conspiracy of carelessness and stalking went to rumba, from their affair It resulted in an incendiary birth that already adds more than 15 kilometers of cloud forest turned to ashes. So instead of being with their families, the usual heroes, the Cibao forest firefighters, especially from La Vega and Jarabacoa, were transferred 6 hours away to the southern borders. The reason for their presence is even more aberrant: in that area there are not enough trained personnel, despite having the glamorous Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo biosphere reserve.

That south, rich in beauties and national parks, every time a spark is lit there, hardly anyone appears to extinguish them: Those who knew how to do it were replaced, payroll and payroll have doubled, but of those who are charging almost no one wants to face the fire. As soon as they finished there, they were urgently summoned to the José del Carmen Ramírez National Park: the flames consumed the “Sabana de Macutico”, perhaps without suspecting that three days later they would have to return to the same Sierra de Bahoruco: this time 3 new fires they devastated large areas of that National Park. That is why it must be said: They are a few humble men, with more courage and courage than anyone, worthy of better luck, With miserable wages (bordering on destitution), it seems that they are only good “for being in the picture” and being empty ad covers: from 10 to 14 thousand pesos a month the “heroes” of this film earn on average! It seems that this is all they deserve: for the “muvi”, Ministers come and Ministers go, full of smiles and surrounded by image makers: they pose with them, praise them, ponder them, but once the fire is out, what does it matter: they forget them! Despite appearances, the current management has not been different: since March 2021 they have been promised a salary increase or to “name” those who are nominal (who have not been paid since October), but in the same way they have only been beautiful for the I appear in the networks. How much shame, how much shame, how much helplessness!

A handful of advisers and assistants who do not reach 10 have more income than the entire team of wildland firefighters combined… And yet they continue to battle: homeless, poorly equipped, poorly paid and on the verge of collapse. If that’s fair, may God come and see.

Meanwhile, in 15 days more than 50 kilometers of forests have been affected …

And until the next fire!

The author is an environmentalist, coordinator of the Green Action Foundation.