RIGA - Due to Latvia's growing number of fires, the National Fire and Rescue Service has been forced to repair 71 vehicles and has fallen into serious fuel debt.
National Fire and Rescue Service chief Ainars Pencis said that the service now owes 82,000 lats (116,676 euros) to fuel suppliers, and that this number would continue to grow, thanks to soaring fuel prices. Exact figures, however, will not be known until this fall, when the service plans to ask the government to grant additional funds.
In addition to this financial crisis, the Fire and Rescue Service lacks 95 employees. The main reasons for this shortage, according to Pencis, are meager wages and a poor working environment.
Even if the additional funds are granted, another problem will arise 's the organization of procurement competitions, which is a time-consuming process. "If a water pump costs 10,000 lats, a competition must be announced, and it takes time, but we cannot wait," said Pencis.
As a solution, the chief envisages the construction of a new fire station, modern equipment and increased wages. Pencis said that Interior Minister Dzintars Jaundzeikars had promised to find the necessary resources in next year's budget.
Jaundzeikars told the Baltic News Service that the government would approve the proposal before the upcoming parliamentary elections this fall, assuring that the fuel debts would be settled.
As many as 12,984 fires were registered in the first seven months of this year, up 7,132 fires from the same period last year.