Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rio de Janeiro Firemen Continue Their Fight

I had an amazing moment this evening. I took advantage of Jim's visit and Mr. Rant's Botafogo game at 730pm and asked if Mr. Rant could pick the kids of at school.

As luck would have it, Jim left before school pick up and as I was preparing to meet with Mr. Rant at the school a commotion started on the street. It was a protest, and a big one at that.

Going with the luck that I had actually gotten Mr. Rant to leave work early and pick up the kids, I decided to grab my camera and go with the commotion.

The protest was by the firefighters. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the organizers, a young man under 30 years old. He has 3 children, commutes 3 hours into work in Zona Sul, and was supposed to be pleased to receive the "raise" the government gave them. It was a cost of living raise, one they should be getting regardless. The crew, much larger than I have seen thus far, had congregated to ask for just money.

I followed as the obnoxious American. Greatly, that was openly accepted in a moment like this. I asked all of them what they striving for. Shockingly, the vast majority didn't talk about salary. They want better work conditions. They want enough people so that they can respond to traumas in a timely manner. They do not want their work questioned, as if they are lazy, because they don't have the man power nor the equipment to do their job correctly.

The whole of them want to be respected as the heroes they are. They want Brazilians to be able to call their version of 911 and know that one of these men will be able to be there when they are needed. They want work conditions that do not make them so exhausted that their job is about that, work, and not saving the people.

A large part of having the energy to do this kind of job is being able to support one's family. These men are spending their days taking care of our neighborhood while worrying about what is happening in the one they live in. They struggle to make it into work and have worry if they will have the money to put decent food on the table.

And here you have a group of noble people asking for conditions that allow them to do their job better. What people forget is that their job is protecting and saving our lives. Surprisingly they continue to go unnoticed to most. I will say that they have been noticed by me and I will never forget the faces of that group!


  1. Rachel,

    The sign on the second picture says it all.
    "For the Governor, you represent a vote, for us, you represent a life".
    It's real shame these guys can't have the basics to do their job right! It should all start with peace of mind at their homes, with being able to provide for their families first and then have the necessary and adequate tools to perform at their best.
    I think Rio's governor is playing a dangerous game, because the firefighters have the population on their side.


  2. At the closing ceremony of the World Military Games last week there were bands from each branch of the military: the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, and the Fire Fighters.

    When the Fire Fighters' band entered the stadium the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. It was 10 time more enthusiastic than any of the other groups.

    I was inspired.

  3. Sad thing is that a fortune is being spent on stadiums, venues and other things so to cater to two events that aren't financially rational. Plus the infrastructure that comes along with them (trains from airport to stadiums) have to adapt to the venues of the event and AND NOT TO the needs of the transportation grid that would benefit the flow of most of the population. Ask any serious transportation or traffic engineer or publication.
    Politicians try to fool us and claim the opposite and often cite Barcelona as an example. Barcelona is the perfect example of Olympic infrastructure COINCIDING with a host city's needs to a CERTAIN extent. Since it coincided to a larger extent then in other host cities then the Logicmorons that run Brazil consider it to be efficient. Humn, where are the flaws in reason here...
    Meanwhile what should be receiving investment and would bring long term gains is left behind: better wages for firefighters is definetaly one where cost versus benefit reveals the obscenity of wasting money on these events.

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  5. Thank you for posting this, I actually didn't know they were still protesting.

    I find stories like this quite sobering, It is clear that Brazil still have a long way to go before it becomes a develop nation, no matter how many Olympics or World Cups we manage to host until we start taking care of our own we won't have made it to the next level.

    I just didn't get why you think you were being obnoxious by following this peaceful protest?