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Rioting Firefighters arrested in Madrid

Tue 29th Mar 2011

Spain's Security and emergency forces opposed each other in the capital yesterday when around 200 protesting firemen disrupted the opening ceremony of a new fire station in Valdemoro.

Riot Police responded by firing rubber bullets into the air in an attempt to move firemen who were staging a sit-in at the local town council offices to demand an increase in staffing and equipment. The disturbance resulted in a number of smashed windows and injuries to two local policemen. Five protesting firemen were arrested following the disturbance.

A representative of the firefighter trade union said how the 3.4-million-eurofire station at Valdemoro was a "political inauguration" and that fire engines and staff would have to be borrowed from other stations, who were themselves already thinly stretched.

He also complained that no new firefighters had been recruited for seven years. "They ration our toilet paper but they build a fire station in Valdemoro when they're more needed elsewhere," he commented.

Madrid's interior chief, Francisco Granados, called the action "brutal" and said how criminal charges would be brought against the protesting firemen.

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