Audit Office finds row of violations in fire depots

A report by the State Audit Office finds that about €2.8 million might have been saved in building fire depots of the country's State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD). The report also uncovers numerous violations across Latvia's fire depots, including one depot being used as a hunting club.

The report calls for the ministry and the authorities to identify the people at fault and call them to justice.

It finds that depot designs were not re-used, meaning differing depots were built across the country; and the ones that were built were made too big and parts of them have gone unused. The report estimates that at least €2.8 million might have been saved by building appropriately-sized depots.

Furthermore, there are eighteen "white spots" where rescue services can't be provided within due time, but none of the new depots were built to ensure these areas are covered.

Meanwhile the report identifies what it calls outright illegal practices at the depot located in Ķeipene parish, which hosted hunting events without rental agreements and payment for the use of the premises. A hunting club had been listed at the address of the depot, with its phone number belonging to a high-ranking VUGD official.

The audit office has turned to anti-graft authorities with info on this case.

Further violations were discovered in that a high-ranking official was offered a rental apartment at a rescue service college for one third of the price regular cadets pay to reside there.

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