Ljubljana – Defence Minister Marjan Šarec announced systemic changes in civil protection and disaster relief after a massive fire in the western Kras region. He told the newspaper Dnevnik that the army should immediately be activated in case of natural disasters and not only after the civil protection requests so.
“My goal is for units of the Slovenian army to take part in the national plan as soon as the civil protection is activated, which means that someone from the army would be present in the civil protection headquarters.
“Another goal is for units of the Slovenian army to be available much sooner, in this case water cisterns, mobile kitchens, and engineering unit that was also active in Kras,” Šarec said in an interview with Dnevnik’s supplement Objektiv.
According to the minister, the last fire showed all parts of the civil protection that were activated as part of the national plan worked extremely well. “No house burnt down except for a hunting cabin – and most importantly not a single life was lost.”
As for the initiative launched by Prime Minister Robert Golob to give volunteer firefighters compensation for their efforts, he said this was not a systemic measure. “No firefighter will go fight a fire because of a promise of a pay, they would be insulted.”
“Firefighters will never ever help because of money, that is clear, but in this case it is a gesture, a present from the government and its citizens to the people who selflessly fought the flames,” Šarec said.
He announced that a legislative solution would be drawn up for volunteer firefighters to be eligible to a certain compensation, receive a symbolic daily pay for taking part in a national emergency plan either in case of a fire, flood or any other natural disaster.
With this initiative the government does not want to interfere with the the philosophy and ethics of volunteer work but merely upgrade the words of gratitude, he said.
He explained that the national plan was activated only in cases of major disasters, so firefighters would get the compensation when they are on the ground for several days.
According to the minister, the compensation for the last fire will be the same for all, as everyone worked for 12 hours or more. He said the money should be transferred to firefighting associations as quickly as possible. Firefighters will now need to examine their equipment and replace what was destroyed, he added.