Only two fire fighters were on duty on Sunday, with another answering the phone. / sur

Benalmádena firefighter faces disciplinary action for refusing to hose down streets after muddy rain

“We are an emergency service, not street cleaners,” said José Antonio Macías, who is also the coordinator for the Vox political party in the Costa del Sol town

IVÁN GELIBTER Malaga

“We are an emergency service, not street cleaners”. That was one of the reasons given this weekend by Benalmádena firefighter José Antonio Macías, who is facing disciplinary action for refusing to help clean the calima - Saharan dust - off streets in the municipality. Macías, who is also the coordinator for the Vox political party in Benalmádena, could also be fined for failing to carry out orders.

It was on Sunday that the acting chief fire officer received a message from the Councillor for Safety, Javier Marín, saying that because of the muddy rain there had been numerous accidents. Council workers were trying to clean the residue up, but Marín wanted the fire service to collaborate by power-washing the Paseo del Generalife to prevent people falling over on the slippery mud.

The fire officer then phoned José Antonio Macías Guerrero and told him to take charge of that task, but he refused, despite being asked several times. Macías was then sent a WhatsApp message explaining the dangers of the slippery dust for pedestrians and the risk of it blocking drains, and saying the fire service needed to go and help with the cleaning.

Instead of following those orders, he wrote to his superior officer explaining why he was not prepared to do so. He said there were only two fire fighters on duty, with another manning the emergency phone number. He pointed out that the council had plenty of vehicles and staff who knew what they were doing, and that the fire service could not risk not being able to respond if they were called out on an emergency. In the end, the firefighters did not go and help to clean the calima off the streets.

José Antonio Macías is now expected to appear before a tribunal of fellow firefighters who will decide whether any action should be taken against him for his behavour. He is unrepentant, and insists he is not prepared to put the safety of people in Benalmádena at risk. He also says there was a fire on that same day which the fire brigade was able to attend because they were not out cleaning the streets.