Francisco Vaca Ends Term as President of CBPC: €14m Debt Reduction

Martín Serrano

Francisco Vaca ends his term as President of the Cadiz Firefighters Consortium (CBPC), having reduced debt by almost €14 m…

Socialist Francisco Vaca García is the president of the Cadiz Provincial Consortium of Firefighters. A holder of a master’s degree in industry, he is married and has three children. Before taking up his post as head of the Consortium in 2015, he was a councillor for the PSOE at the Town Hall of Castellar from 1983 to 1995, before becoming mayor of this beautiful village in Campo de Gibraltar until 2011.

Now that his mandate has come to an end, Reach-Alcance caught up with Vaca to look back on his term of office.

Francisco Vaca

What was the state of the Consortium when you started, and how much debt was it in?

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t a great situation. It was complicated and critical in terms of current payments. Debts had rocketed over the previous legislature. The municipalities and county council went from having almost no outstanding debts, to indebtedness adding up to more than 24 million euros.

Undoubtedly, the first problem you had to tackle was the municipal debt. How did this affect the functioning of the Consortium?

We had some city councils that had failed to comply with their quotas and payment agreements, which contributed to a debt that kept the Consortium in a state of instability which increased from month to month and threatened to endanger the viability of the institution. The economic situation has improved a great deal in recent years. The local councils have made a great effort, which we are thankful for.

Today, all consortia partners comply with their payments, allowing for the normal functioning of the Firefighters Consortium. Payment agreements were reached with the city councils that had accrued the most debts – some of them very substantial. Some of these agreements have already been fulfilled, and others are being satisfied now.

I remember that you undertook an immediate tour to interview the debtor municipalities. That couldn’t have been easy, considering that you warned them that the fire service would be in danger if they did not comply.

Cadiz FireFighter Consortium
Social improvements in family-friendly conditions, public services and leave.

After having gained a thorough understanding of the situation, and with the support of all the technical team, it was clear that the first thing to do was to take concrete measures to ensure financial stability and to guarantee payment through reliable agreements with large debtors. We set a date – December 31st, 2015 – just three months after I took charge as president. Any city council that chose not to respond would be expelled from the Consortium. There was no other way to correct the issue and, at the same time, respect the municipalities that were up to date with their payments.

The response was clearly positive, given the substantial reduction of debt to date.

We reached our goals following many meetings, adjustments and a lot of dialogue. It was clear that everyone wanted to remain part of the Consortium. I want to highlight the role the Collection Service of the Provincial Council of Cadiz played in this process, as they facilitated and managed a large part of these payments. To date, the debt has decreased by 56.69%, or €13,822,792.73. In October 2015, the debt was €24,380,989.39. In May 2019, it was reduced to €10,558,196.66.

At the same time, you set yourself some goals for your mandate. Let’s go over them.

Sara Cantalapiedra at the Algeciras Fire Station @Fran Montes

The first, without a doubt, was debt reduction. That’s right. Debt reduction came first, making services more accessible to citizens, maintaining good relations with the various administrations, as well as with private companies and trades unions. Not failing to mention a fundamental issue, which was to provide the professionals at the Firefighters Consortium with the necessary means to be able to do their jobs.

Then came the signing of the regulatory agreement signed by the three unions present for the first time. Was it complicated?

Nothing is easy, everything takes determination, but you can achieve anything with enthusiasm, hard work, dialogue and the will to succeed. I’m grateful to the political leaders and the negotiating table, the technicians and trade unions for the effort they made so that we could achieve this historic agreement together.

In terms of investment, the new fire station in Tarifa stands out. You must have felt very satisfied once it began operating.

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Of course. The professionals more so than me, as they will be able to enjoy it after having operated from neglected installations, to say the least. I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my appreciation of the mayor of Tarifa, Paco Ruiz, his government team and the help offered to see this project through.

Are there other projects we should be looking back on?

During this mandate, different works have been carried out in different areas (Bahía de Cádiz, Campo de Gibraltar, Campiña de Jerez and Sierra de Cádiz).

What about the staff increase?

Prior to the approval of the first Offer of Public Employment of this legislature – which was carried out in 2016 – a previous offer was published in 2008, consisting of 7 firefighters, 2 corporals, 1 sergeant and 1 administrative assistant.

The process was put on hold by various legal remedies from that date forward. Subsequently, due to the Consortium’s lack of budgets and the need for budget extensions, this hold was maintained throughout 2012, 2013 and 2015. Once this legislation began, both the annual approval of the Budgets and the Offers of Public Employment were reactivated, and the OEP 2019 has already been sent to publication in the official gazette of Cadiz.

The corresponding OEP 2017 vacancies for Firefighters and Corporals have already been completed, and a job exchange program has been set up, allowing for the management and coverage of vacancies in a much more agile manner.

Examinations for firefighters (OEP 2017), sergeants (OEP 2016), sub inspectors (EOP 2016) and supervisors (OEP 2016) are currently being carried out. More public examinations are intended for this year and next.

I imagine that there are still goals to be met. Are you leaving them for a second term?

Inauguration of Tarifa's New Fire Station

It is not my decision; it will have to be taken up by my party in due course. The current situation of the Consortium is nothing like the one I found back in October 2015. Having said that, I would like to finish everything left in the program, with a single objective: for these measures to bear fruit in the next four years. I think this quote fits well; “You never appreciate what you have done; you can only see what still needs to be done.”

Was getting up early in Castellar every day to be the first to arrive to work in Cádiz the hardest part?

If one thing is clear to me, it is that if you have a responsibility, you need to fulfil it. Those who know me well, know that I have never been lazy in the early hours of the morning, nor have I ever gone to bed late at night due to my job.

My last question… What do you find most satisfying about firefighting?

Firefighters in action

What has surprised you the most? To be able to work with a highly professional team in all fields (technicians, unions and firefighters), always ready and open to all your suggestions.

What surprised me the most is how well I’ve been treated by the professionals who make up the Firefighter Consortium. I could not have asked for better people to help me during these four years.

Francisco Vaca ends his term as President of the Cadiz Firefighters Consortium (CBPC), having reduced debt by almost €14 m…

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