Firefighters, "politics makes us promises after every tragedy". But salaries remain lower than other forces (and European colleagues)

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There are not only fires to turn off. Earthquakes, floods, collapses. When there is an emergency, firefighters are the first to arrive and work in danger, and also for this they are perhaps the body most loved by Italians. Politics, on the other hand, seems to remember it only when some of them remain a victim of their own sense of duty, killed while performing a job in which they risk their lives every day. Deaths, like those of the three firefighters of Quargnento, who will not even fall in the count of theInail, given that the fire brigade is insured differently, through the Ministry of the Interior.

For Matteo Gastaldo, Marco Triches and Antonino Candido, the usual chain of solidarity that follows every tragic accident is being activated: "With small donations we support the families of the victims", he says Costantino Saporito, general secretary of the Usb. But the real problem is the salary that these people receive to work on the front line during all kinds of disasters: "We risk our lives for 1300 euros a month. Nobody pays us for the risk we run, nobody goes where we go. Firefighters do unconventional operations but the risk is not contemplated ”, continues Saporito. And the paradox is evident when comparing it with other public security bodies: "Compared to the Police, in proportion, firefighters, between salaries and allowances, receive 216 million euros less each year," he explains Antonio Brizzi, general secretary of the autonomous union Conapo. In fact, it means earning on average 20% less than other security personnel, about 400 euros difference per month. And politics? "To every tragedy, a promise. After Genoa, they told us that they would allocate funds to bridge the gap. Four months ago the yellow-green government promised us 200 million euros and insurance through INAIL ”, recalls Saporito. "But since the last meeting with President Conte, we learned that only 20 million will be inserted during the maneuver".

The main request that comes from the world of firefighters is to harmonization with other state bodies, from the point of view of the economic and social security treatment: "We carry out public aid functions, but we don't have the same treatment of forces like us that are exposed to the danger firsthand, "he says Alessandro Paola, director of the Central Emergency Department. The question derives from the history of the contracts stipulated by each individual body: over time they have been created inequalities, never remedied, who do not recognize the specialization to the fire brigade. "We have no professional recognition", Says Saporito. "We are not given exposure to asbestos, for example. We are workers who require specific preparation and training, in addition to being always on the front line, but without anything to protect us ”. The problem also has legislative roots: "The decree that would give us professional recognition, a true and proper framework as for other police forces, it is stopped because the implementing decrees are missing. And it is a provision that has been discussed since 2004 ”.

The most important thing is money, promised on several occasions, but never actually allocated: "Salaries have been blocked since 2004: from there no renewal", Saporito continues. "There were only interventions on overtime, which are subsidies and in the end the result is that we are forced to work harder." And so, in the end, everything is done for 1300 euros a month: "It is not unfair just to compare with other bodies: even our European colleagues earn hundreds of euros more per month". To equate the fire brigade with the State Police, for example, it takes 216 million euros: "President Conte spoke of 20 million: with that figure only the reorganization of careers is covered", explains Brizzi. "The huge gap lies in the 400 euro difference that there is for the lowest qualifications, but which can even reach 700 for the highest grades". Even from the pension point of view, although it is a job that requires a huge physical commitment, that of the fireman does not enjoy the same rights: "We do not have the economic benefits of other bodies, like the six clicks to the last salary, which lead to an increase of the gross of 15%. And while the other forces, every 5 years, an additional year of pension is recognized, for us it is not so ”.

And so you spend the day getting help on trucks up to 62 years. In the knowledge that the people employed are still too few: “In Italy the ratio is of a firefighter per 16 thousand inhabitants. "Anyone who understands it is not enough," says Brizzi. "There is a shortage of 4,000 people at the level of staff, and on average three directors are missing for each command. Not to mention the almost one thousand managers who will retire throughout Italy. We will shortly be without commanders ". Something, from this point of view, has moved recently: "In the last governments an increase in extraordinary hiring was decreed for 1500 units, thus leading to an increase in the actual workforce," explains Paola. "By the early months of 2020, 1000 people will arrive, while around 500 have entered this year. But to have greater operational capacity, the organic tables of the Ministry of the Interior should be increased ”.


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