If you ever forget just how hard a firefighter’s job is, take note of this powerful image. With Central Portugal currently battling massive forest fires, the need for firefighters is overwhelming. 1,150 firemen have been on the job around the clock to help prevent the fire from spreading, as it ravaged through many areas, injuring 25 people. Last year, two deadly fires in Portugal in June and October claimed 114 lives.
The image went viral last year, showing the firefighters who, despite exhaustion, continued their brave efforts, as they are also doing this year. Fireman Pedro Bras posted the photo of the firefighters getting some rest after working long hours to put out a massive fire in Pedrógão Grande.
Pedro explained: “After a full day and a whole night’s work, we took a rest and rested for 25 minutes by the river, you can see that the air is dense with smoke.”
Among the many people who commented on the photo at the time were those in awe of what these men and women had been through, as one person shared: “These firefighters are prepared to risk their own lives for such small salaries.”
Another commenter noted: “Football players earn millions and live in 5-star hotels. Our firefighters risk their lives to save people’s lives and properties. And they are sleeping on the ground. Those are real heroes!”
Portugese prime minister Antonio Costa said at the time: “The firemen have done everything they can. Several of them have been seriously injured.”
This year, authorities are hoping they don’t have a repeat of last year’s tragedies.
Reuters reported that temperatures reached a peak of nearly 116 Fahrenheit on Sunday, and more firefighters have arrived to assist, as well as 13 aircraft which dumped water on the flames. Additionally, 160 soldiers were sent to aid in evacuation efforts — the village of Foia was evacuated on Monday and hotels in the village of Monchique were evacuated and closed over the weekend.
According to Reuters, “the fire is burning through eucalyptus and pine forests in the hills above the Algarve coast, an area popular with tourists for its hot springs.”
Many people on Facebook have called out the conditions these firefighters are up against, with one person noting: “Once again Portugal is being devastated by raging forest fires, this time in the Algarve. However, unlike California, there is no money and limited resources to help these heroes. These VOLUNTEER firefighters receive just E40 a day. It’s a disgrace that Portugal has very few full-time employed firefighters.”
They added: “Again, unlike the our wealthy cousins across the pond, the inferno that is Portugal hardly gets a mention across the airwaves. There appears to be no — or very little — outside help either.”
Another person shared: “For those of you who aren’t aware, Portugal’s firefighters, the #Bombeiros are mostly a volunteer organization. Only about 10% of firefighters across Portugal are paid professionals! Even worse, these brave men and women are frequently working with outdated, inadequate equipment. Please join me in acknowledging their selfless commitment to keeping fires under control and people safe. I am constantly astounded by their unflagging courage and dedication.”