Press "Enter" to skip to content

Isla Mujeres forest firefighters refuse to continue working due to lack of equipment

Isla Mujeres, Q.R. — A group of forest fire fighters from Isla Mujeres are striking. The group of 136 say since the beginning of the 2023 fire season, they have worked without proper gear and been provided with vehicles that break down.

The Conafor combatants say after months of making requests, the supplies have not been delivered.

The group from the National Forestry Commission (Conafor) began their work stoppage Monday morning. As the official fire season is nearing an end, they say they have yet to receive proper equipment as agreed earlier in the year.

The work stoppage is being lead by the General Secretary of the Semarnat Union, Josué Rodríguez Vaca. He said they have been making equipement requests since mid-January.

During a meeting with Conafor in early 2023, the forest firemen were told to expect the equipment no later than the end of April. However Vaca says that did not happen.

They were forced to fight at least one large forest fire this year without proper equipment. Vaca says the group battled the Francisco May forest fire this year (on the mainland of Isla Mujeres) in used boots and suits that were previously burned and damaged.

“They were not suitable for extreme conditions,” he said noting that “the vehicles suffered breakdowns and ended up in risky places,” referring to the fire areas they were left in after breaking down.

“They (Conafor) are not complying with the working conditions. They are delaying deliveries of uniforms month after month. We are not going to allow it. We want fireproof clothing. There are 136 combatants plus the administrative ones,” he said.

On Monday, a group of the unionized 136 they represent from nine different areas prevented access to the Conafor office. The firemen are demanding proper equipment, repaired vehicles, a budget for fuel and spare parts, as well as timely payment.

So far this year, 36 forest fires have been recorded in the state of Quintana Roo that have burned more than 4,800 hectares.