Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Burning certificate

Spain goes on fire a lot. It happens more in summer when fag ends, thrown from moving cars, and seasonal barbecues don't mix with tinder dry pine forests.

There are small scale fires all over the place. We've seen fires on the hillside above Cartagena and even on the little mountain behind our house in Culebrón. In summer there are always a series of big fires. Occasionally people, especially firefighters, die and the inhabitants of rural villages are regularly evacuated. There are people who patrol the countryside trying to limit hazhards and provide early warning. Fire services have fire engines with huge ground clearances, to get them into areas without roads, and helicopters and water tanker planes, designed to drop thousands of gallons of water onto inaccessible forests, seem to be readily available.

Sometimes the fires happen naturally. Sometimes it's things like a dropped bottles that start fires without people being so directly involved. Sometimes it's those fag ends or a little garden bonfire that gets out of control. Lots of times it's done on purpose. A little burning to clear some nice building land, a bit of revenge against a despised neighbour. Country folk complain about the poor state of the firebreaks - badly maintained because of Government budget cuts.

We have some garden waste to get rid of. It will take the palm tree frond decades to compost. Maggie isn't keen on the pile of rotting vegetation at the back of the house. Burning seems like a good option.

I was vaguely aware of the need to get permission to have a bonfire from the local Town Hall so we went to ask. It wasn't hard. The chap gave us a quick rundown of the requirements - not within such and such a distance of trees, times of day, water on hand to extinguish the fire, only when the wind is below 10km per hour and whatnot. One stipulation was that the fire warning level should be below this or that intensity. Amongst the ways to check that was by following a Twitter account for the local emergency control centre. With the rules explained he checked the details of our address and then we signed a form, in triplicate. One for them, one for us and one for the local police. The signed and stamped certificate was emailed to us early the next morning.

I'm often told how Third World or how bureaucratic Spain is. It's not a view I usually share. Certainly, at times, there are things to complain  about, certainly bureaucracy can be overbearing but, wherever you live, I suspect the same is true for you at times too.

Having some control on burning garden cuttings though in a country that seems quite flamable sounds pretty sensible to me.

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