The Capacity of Timor-Leste’s Fire Fighting Service

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Fundasaun Mahein, April 28th 2014

Press Release

The Capacity of Timor-Leste’s Fire Fighting Service

Timor-Leste’s fire-fighting service is legally constituted according to the Directorate of the National Civil Protection under the Secretary of State for Security. The fire brigade of Timor-Leste is a state institution that was built in 1999 as part of the Civil Protection Group Mission, based on the Fire-Service corps of Portugal, to respond in emergency situations. The majority of fire fighters work voluntarily.

According to government Decree Law No. 31/2008, article 42 cites that the Directorate of the National Civil Protection (DNCP) is responsible for coordinating the Secretary of State for Security’s prevention activities. Such activities include natural disaster response and providing assistance to communities victimized by natural disaster, fire fighting in houses and other areas, and safeguarding houses by trimming tree branches near electric cables.

Although Timor’s fire brigade has worked hard for the public, the public continues to question the organizations performance as they frequently arrive late to the scenes of fires. One example of this is the recent market-place fire that took place in Covalima; the late response from the Fire Brigade meant that the community lost almost all of their goods to the fire.

The problems mentioned above take place because the fire brigade lacks adequate equipment such as cars, hoses, and safety equipment. The equipment the do currently have is not sufficient for their job, and they currently lack adequate transportation.

As a state institution comprised of civil servants, the fire brigade work and duties are defined according to the civil servants law, which also mandates that they work every week no more than 44 hours. However, the fire service usually works more than the 44 hours outlined by the law, meaning that they work longer hours and in a more dangerous situation than many other civil servants.

According to FM’s point of view, the government (particularly the Secretary of State for Security) and the Public Commission should define the Civil Protection Service, and the fire service in particular, as equal to other civil servants in workload.

FM’s Recommendations:

1. Recommend that the Secretary of State for Security, through the Directorate of the National Civil Protection (DNCP) accelerate drafting of the organic law, creation of a consistent uniform, also guarantee of a fair salary for the fire service corps (which has been cited in the Strategic Plan of the SSS), in order motivate member of the fire brigade.

2. Recommend that funding is allocated to set up a maintenance system for the equipment used by the fire service, including maintenance of the living quarters of the fire services regionally and in the districts to ensure that fire-fighters perform at their highest level.

For more details on this issue please see the following:


Nélson Belo
Executive Director of FM
Phone: (+670) 7737-4222

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