The Volunteer Fire Department in Rogoznica near Šibenik is faced with an enforcement procedure due to unpaid bills for water they supposedly didn’t even use.
In the last few days, Croatian firefighters have been called heroes more times than you could count. Those same firefighters rejected the hero title every single time, saying they’re just doing their job and claimed they just wish for better – normal – working conditions.
A lot has been written about the lack of equipment in numerous fire departments in Dalmatia, and no matter how many times they get called heroes again, things still don’t seem to be looking up. Today brings more unbelievable news: as they’ve been tirelessly battling the recent fires in Dalmatia, the fire department in Rogoznica got a notice of an enforcement procedure for unpaid water bills.
In a statement given to Morski.hr, department commander Čedo Živković explained what’s going on:
“While my boys were putting out fires in Bilice and Split, my colleague brought me a “greeting card” from the utility company Vodovod i odvodnja (watter suply and sewage system) about an enforcement procedure being launched in order to charge us for using the water from a hydrant.
Fifteen years ago, someone thought to install a water meter on that hydrant, resulting in two legal procedures that have us looking at enforcement of charges. If we don’t have any funds on our account, what are they going to take? Our boots and helmets?
The Volunteer Fire Department Rogoznica used to collect water from the hydrant in question, which seemed as the most logical move. When I became commander 9 years ago, I forbade the guys from taking water from the hydrant, yet that was still ignored and the company charged a flat-rate of 360 kuna. The former chief didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, so he used to pay a certain sum. However, someone else kept using that water, and all the bills were sent to our fire department. A decade later, the bills have piled up, and now we have to hire a lawyer as well. Someone has to pay for all of that.
I’ve been the department president for nine years, and I’ve been a firefighter for 39. People, I defended this country and I can’t fathom somehing like this is going on in Croatia! Us volunteers are furious and we often regret becoming volunteers! I’m afraid these younger guys will come to the same conclusion and give up, and then what are we going to do? We’re lucky that Rogoznica isn’t part of a poorer municipality, and my 20 colleagues are still enthusiastic, but don’t think that’s the case everywhere! They’re going away, leaving the country, who’s going to defend it in times like these?
The saddest thing is, all of this can be resolved by politics, smoothed out in one single move. However, they are showering us with praise in public, while the reality looks exactly like I’ve told you”, Živković said bitterly.