24 Oct, 2023 @ 14:32
1 min read

Fireworks, smoke grenades and even flamethrowers: Firefighters’ protest in Spain’s Galicia turns violent as riot police charge

Firemen clash with police in Spain's Galicia region

A PROTEST by firefighters in the Galician city of Ourense descended into violent clashes with riot police on Monday, leaving several injured after officers charged against the firemen. 

The incident took place as the 200 or so striking fire crews tried to access the Provincial Council building in the northwestern city, pulling down barriers and trying to get past a cordon of National Police officers. 

One of the firemen was left with a broken nose after being beaten by the riot officers, sources from the firefighters told news agency Europa Press. There were reportedly more people left injured but the unions that organised the protest did not provide further details to reporters. 

The protesting fire crews used smoke grenades, flares and fireworks during their protest, as well as small, improvised flamethrowers. 

“Firefighters from the Ourense province tried to enter,” wrote police union SUP on X (formerly Twitter) in the wake of the incident. “When they were stopped they even used flamethrowers against our colleagues. 

“It is difficult to believe that people who know how painful a burn is could do such a thing,” the union continued. 

Firemen clash with police in Spain's Galicia region
A flamethrower used at the protest on Monday. Twitter

The firefighters have been staging industrial action since June 15 in a bid to secure better working conditions, according to Spanish press reports. 

The crews are from rural stations that usually are on the front line when there is a forest fire. 

They are demanding improvements that would put them on a level with their colleagues in Galicia’s cities. 

The strikes have involved refusing to work non-compulsory overtime, which has seen fire stations sporadically closed in the region since the summer.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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