«The situation is quite calm now, but last week was very stressful for all staff with exhausting 24-hour shifts». The worst moment, for now, is behind and the firefighters of the provincial command Reggio Calabria they can take a breather. After a week as a red dot, the provincial commander explains Antonio Casella, with the numerous fires that have devastated the territory of the metropolitan city, the 400 firefighters operating in the province of Reggio Calabria have returned to their routine work. The firefighters, however, always remain alert because, from experience, they know that the situation can escalate within a few hours.
Commander Casella sits in his office on the third floor of the headquarters with some documents in hand, last week at the same time he was busy coordinating the rescue machine over a large area of the province. «Today we can say that it is a quiet day after all – he says – we are engaged in some interventions, but nothing compared to what we had to face last week when we had to intervene to put out many fires that broke out simultaneously. They’ve been really difficult days, we can’t deny it, but it’s our job and we always try to do it at our best».
Going into the matter, in the hottest days of the fire emergency, when many towns in the Grecanica area and the Ionian coast of Reggio were on fire, there were about 500 interventions that the firefighters located between the provincial command and the 8 territorial detachments had to face. An amount of work almost comparable to that of the summer of two years ago, when hundreds of hectares of forest in Aspromonte went up in smoke. Commander Casella has no doubts about the matrix of those fires, as well as those of the summer of 2021.
«Behind it is the hand of man without a doubt – declares the provincial commander – We have not found any triggers, but the large number of fires, their simultaneity, the distance between one fire and another makes us understand that they cannot be natural, but were started by someone. The doubt can be between intentional or negligent but, I repeat, the hand of man is behind it». When we talk about prevention, we often forget that to avoid the outbreak of large fires, small gestures can make the difference. Then, however, the regional institutions must also do their part by controlling the territory more. «Let’s start from an assumption – underlines Commander Casella – prevention is fundamental. And when I speak of prevention I am also referring to the cleaning of the streets and grounds. It may seem like a trivial matter, but it is not. Because it is obvious that if the ground is not kept clean, a trigger, intentional or negligent, can cause serious damage by fueling fires that can also become very large and dangerous».
As for the Calabria Region, Commander Casella explains that preventing fires “is not easy, if it were they would have already solved the problem. The Region has competence over forest fires and we participate in extinguishing them. I believe that it is necessary in the competition of various bodies that work together in coordination and also of the citizens as we explained earlier, having more diligent behavior in certain situations. Then of course, the competent bodies need to be more vigilant ».