Vegan firefighters: a decent and low-paid job

TTeamwork, discipline and commitment to society are part of the qualities that characterize the La Vega Fire Department, heroes who risk their lives every day to carry out their work.

The firefighters expressed the happiness they feel when helping people, most of them since they were children felt identified with their work, so they were trained for it. Each one shares pride and motivation for serving citizens, seeing their work as a vocation with which they are born.

The salaries
“The salary is enough to survive, yes, but with two more jobs,” said César Abreu, director of the La Vega Fire Department.

It is no secret that many public institutions in the Dominican Republic have financial shortages and this fire department is no exception.

Their salary is below the minimum wage, since they have a monthly salary of RD $ 5,000 pesos and a 911 bonus for the same amount, which increases their earnings per month, however, they do not feel safe from this incentive due to which can be withdrawn at any time. In that order, the institution receives an amount of RD $ 150,000 pesos to cover food expenses, since they work in shifts from 7:00 AM to 7:00 AM the other day, offering the service every 48 hours.

From this figure, the maintenance of trucks, equipment and other necessities is paid; finding it difficult to cover expenses with this amount.

According to Abreu, there has not been an investment in the institution in more than 10 years, that is, since then they have the same RD $ 150,000 pesos, which is assigned to cover all their internal maintenance and due to inflation it is no longer enough.

It highlights that the progress and main sustenance has been by its own merit in its majority and by donations periodically on the part of national and international institutions.

Among the foreign entities that send aid, ‘Angels Wings’ stands out, a foundation that for years has made various donations to the corporation.

Due to the low remuneration for their work, they feel obliged to offer independent services such as electricians, gardeners, builders, masseurs, drivers, among other tasks.

Training is vital
The lack of personnel without studies is not something that characterizes this institution, since they teach courses such as: rescue in water, land, paramedic, first aid, class against fire, vehicle rescue, basic health care, physical training for resistance, among others and, in turn, they make working hours more flexible so that they have the opportunity to acquire new knowledge.

“You do not take away the space to study from anyone, if you have to pay for a course to someone you pay. The advancement of society is in the study ”, emphasized Ramón Silva, lieutenant colonel.

All this in order that, when carrying out its work, it finds itself with the necessary capacity to face the emergencies that arise daily, according to Abreu and Silva.

On the other hand, this group, in addition to putting out large fires, also deals with forest fires, which are dealt with immediately to prevent their expansion.

Hence the importance of all firefighters being vegan community members and their permanence in the province, so as not to lose their community essence and the representation of their people, even if one of them is free from their work, if one of these shows up. accidents and major reinforcements are needed, always be available and nearby to help.

History and current condition At the end of the 1800s the building was created, which by 1916 was occupied by the American troops after their intervention, serving as a barracks and fortress and also as a strategic point due to its location, since, at that time it could observing the entire city and it was useful for them to keep an eye on their surroundings. After the departure of the Americans, it was finally taken in 1953 to be the La Vega Fire Department.

From this and other historical episodes, the structure has played an important role in the city, without being taken into account for its optimal conservation; Among their conditions are fallen bricks and the constant uneasiness that the roof falls on them, which is estimated that to condition it properly would cost about RD $ 2 million pesos.

Among the people who have made an effort to improve it, stands out Salazar, an Ecuadorian citizen who has focused on improving the facilities, since they are not in good condition, to the point that, if an earthquake occurs, the back of the building would collapse. , as he himself indicates that “the bricks were stuck with saliva.”

Equipment conditions
Regarding their work tools, the director commented that they have a large amount of water, which serves as a supply and that they also have enough trucks for their work; even offering help support for other emergencies outside the province due to the good condition of their equipment. The only concern with regard to your trucks is exposure to the sun and rain that they have, since it causes them to be damaged much faster.

Given the arrival of the current Coronavirus, the authorities have provided masks and vaccines for these firefighters who were inoculated in phase 1, in addition to providing them with the required tests due to the aforementioned virus.

This entity served for three months as a vaccination center, this being an example of the social commitment that the institution has.

Your needs
Each of them have in common their pride and motivation to serve the public, more than a salary, they see it as a vocation of service, so they consider that it is not enough to want to be a firefighter, but to be born with that feeling of help to the population, but in the same way, they have their shortcomings.

Despite the service being their “passion”, they consider that a salary increase for their work is necessary, not only because it does not give them to support themselves and their families, but because they understand that this would be the right thing to do.

In that order, they expressed their concern about not having independent life insurance for working as firefighters in the event that something happens to them in their work, which is alarming due to the constant dangers they face. Some have health insurance but correspond to outside jobs.

In addition to this, transportation represents another difficulty for them. Costing the tickets is difficult due to the small amount of money they handle. “Not every day there are 100 pesos,” said Jefry Suarez, one of the organization’s employees.

In addition, they expressed that although they enjoy the food that is offered to them every day, some of them consider that the menu should vary, so that it favors their diet. All of this is part of their experiences and they hope it will be resolved promptly.

Career with vocation
A clear example of love for what they do is Mr. Ramón Elías Silva, Lieutenant Colonel, who is the oldest person in the institution, with 37 years of work, who joined in 1984 after observing the need for this type of aid to society and which also pointed out that everything it is and has is thanks to the company.

“As a human being I like to help, I don’t care about money, what matters to me is the person and serving others,” Silva said.

He also highlighted the notorious change that he has seen over the years, since there were only two trucks when entering and thanks to Abreu and the trustee Kelvin Cruz, they have more conditions compared to their beginnings.

“The best teaching from an old firefighter to a new one is to be an old firefighter,” he stressed, alluding to the value of experience in social work.