Fire at Sant’Antnin Waste Treatment Plant

September 29, 2017 in Fire

We all saw it on the news. Like everyone else – at our place of work, at home or at the bar – we watched as the breaking news made it to all four corners of the world of media telling us that, early in the afternoon, the waste recycling plant at Marsascala had caught fire. The flames reportedly broke into a massive, uncontrollable blaze within minutes and the incident immediately became a major topic for discussion. Through the afternoon, as the hours rolled into the evening, everyone was following in awe the fire that failed to subside. And in the mind of each and every EFRU volunteer, the same unyielding question. Is it just a matter of time before the EFRU is called to assist? Or will the CPD control the fire and bring this ordeal to an end soon?

I guess this is the reality of the irony faced by all fire-fighting volunteers. On the one hand, you pray for the quick and safe resolution of the situation – for all the obvious reasons. You hope to God that there are no casualties and look forward for things to return to normal. On the other hand, however, that one little corner of your personality reserved for the fire fighter in you, admits to telling you that you wish to go out there and help. Unfortunately, when volunteers are called out to assist on this sort of mission, it usually does not bode too well, but that’s what the volunteers are there for. To help when the standard procedures are not enough.

At around 1600hrs that evening, the EFRU was called in to provide fire support and also to assist with the manning of one of the CPD fire stations as all the state’s personnel at the time were engaged on this massive fire. Indeed, the fire was one of the biggest the island had ever seen. The greatest cause for concern was the nature of the burning material itself – piles of recyclable (and very flammable) rubbish, made up almost entirely out of paper and plastics. The enormous quantities of these materials not only fuelled the unyielding flames for hours on end, but also threw toxic fumes into the air. This, coupled with the unbearable temperatures of the blaze which melted and fused the burning piles into one huge, unsurpassable lump made the situation a rather dangerous one to our volunteers. Yet to give up was no option and, until they were relieved of their tasks at around 0300hrs the following morning, the EFRU fire fighters were still standing: tired and grimy, but proud to have served with all the energy that they had. 

The days go by and such ordeals gradually become forgotten. Lest we forget however, it is high time to remind ourselves of all the work that Civil Protection workers and volunteers did that day and on a daily basis. One cannot but thank these individuals whose selfless commitment to their cause is the reason for someone else’s peace of mind. If this doesn’t beg praise and admiration towards the people who repeatedly risk their lives to protect that of others, nothing ever will.

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Iona Muscat – Rescuer & Newsletter Editor