Both volunteer and professional firefighters experience very challenging conditions when extinguishing a fire in Czech Switzerland. They have to face difficult terrain, high temperatures or elevation at the site of the fire. On Tuesday, 1,028 of them were involved in fighting the fire.

“We are now focused on changing forces, maintaining equipment, controlling the fire scene and extinguishing small outbreaks in places we have complete control,” the fire department wrote on Twitter on Monday evening.

The unions will demand remuneration for the extraordinary deployment of professional firefighters. “Of course, we will demand rewards for intervention in Hřensk and its surroundings. With the rewards, we must not forget the colleagues who worked overtime at the parent stations and ensured the fulfillment of the tasks of the HZS CR. They were paid 35 percent of their salary for these hours,” union chairman Jiří Jílek told iDNES.cz.

“We will contact the minister after the event”

On the contrary, it is not clear whether volunteer firefighters who intervene on the spot from all over the country will also receive a reward. It was the volunteers who often had to take a vacation to intervene. Voluntary firefighting units are entitled to a wage payment from the employer during the time they intervene and can also receive remuneration from the municipality if the intervention exceeds their normal working hours.

The employer is then obliged to compensate the lost earnings for an employee who is a volunteer firefighter and participates in an intervention during working hours, according to § 29 of the Fire Protection Act, to the municipality.

The head of the trade union told iDNES.cz that he would mention volunteer firefighters during the negotiations on remuneration. “Without their help, this disaster could not have been solved, and they undoubtedly deserve the reward as well,” Jílek pointed out. However, it is not yet clear what remuneration he will ask for the firefighters.

“We will evaluate the amount and contact the minister immediately after the event,” added the head of the trade union. The editors of iDNES.cz also asked the Minister of the Interior, Vít Rakušan, whether he would agree to the remuneration for professional firefighters.

“We will certainly open the debate about the remuneration for firefighters, professional and voluntary, and not only in connection with the current intervention in Hřensk. I want to discuss the firefighter remuneration system in connection with the upcoming amendment to the crisis legislation. “We already announced last week that professional firefighters will receive a ten percent increase in their tariff salaries from next year,” the minister wrote to iDNES.cz.

After the outbreak of the fire and the emergency deployment of firefighters, the debate arose again regarding their current salary. “We discussed salaries with the government three times. For now, the promise to increase the tariffs by 10 percent applies, which I consider to be the minimum, and the government should realize that we are doing work for our citizens, for our state,” emphasized Jílek.

According to him, however, the prime minister and members of the government do not want to react to the drastic drop in the value of the salary and some kind of inflationary compensation this year.

“We are losing competitiveness on the labor market. It is a shame to find a firefighter through an advertisement, to demand a promise to save one’s own life, to demand health, physical and mental fitness, at least ÚSO education. What we offer? 28,000 crowns, working hours 240 hours per month, employment contract – service relationship, for a fixed period of three years,” added Jílek, adding that the unions are now waiting for the promised negotiations with the government after the publication of the macroeconomic forecast in the second half of August.