The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has expressed its solidarity with the firefighters who responded to the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that left at least 14 people dead and dozens more injured.
In a letter to the trade union who represent firefighters across Spain, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack writes: “We utterly condemn these senseless terrorist attacks, which have killed ordinary people going about their lives. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected.
“We also wanted to express our pride and admiration for the firefighters who attended the scenes of these atrocities and took care of the dead and injured. FBU members had similar experiences with the attacks in Westminster in March and London Bridge in June of this year when 13 people were killed and dozens more injured. The professionalism shown by the firefighters of Barcelona is of great credit to your service and will be recognised by firefighters around the world.
“Firefighters across the UK stand shoulder to shoulder with you and pay tribute to the outstanding contribution you make to the safety of citizens. We stand ready to assist and to offer our solidarity whenever necessary.”
The FBU has a long history of solidarity with firefighters in Spain. The union’s well known We Rescue People, Not Banks t-shirts, widely worn by members on demonstrations, is based on a design made by firefighters in Barcelona.
The slogan came to prominence in February 2013 when firefighters in Coruna, a town in Northern Spain, were sent to evict 86 year old Aurelia Rey from the apartment.
Spain, like most of Europe, had suffered badly in the wake of the 2008 banking collapse and the government had reacted with spending cuts and austerity measures. One of the outcomes was a huge increase in homelessness with evictions reaching 500 a day.
When the firefighters arrived at Aurelia Rey’s apartment, they refused to help carry out the eviction. As news of this spread, firefighters adopted the slogan; Rescatamos Personas, No Bancos. Translated into English, it means We Rescue People, Not Banks.
The slogan highlights opposition to austerity and the vital life-saving, humanitarian role of the firefighting profession as well as that of all the emergency services. It is a slogan the FBU hope will bring strength to the Catalonian people in a very dark hour.