AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — A group of Italian firefighters who work on base are unhappy enough with their living conditions that they’re considering a strike.

Giovanni Iandola, a union representative who speaks for the upset employees, said that sleeping arrangements at the base for those working the overnight shift don’t meet European standards and regulations. “It’s a very big problem,” he said Friday. The firefighters say that the rooms they sleep in are too close to the trucks they use and they believe that fumes are hurting their health.

Base officials have a different opinion.

Lorenzo Bertulazzi, an Italian who serves as the protection and preventive officer for the base, admits that some aspects of the sleeping arrangements aren’t up to standard.

But, he says, that will change when the base constructs new living quarters as part of the Aviano 2000 project. In the meantime, he said no one is in danger.

Extensive tests have shown the air quality “is not dangerous or hazardous for anybody’s health,” he said. “We haven’t found anything that’s relevant. There’s no need to evacuate the facility.”

Bertulazzi said he even invited local authorities to the base and they haven’t disclosed any major problems from their inspection.

The most pressing issue involves the quarters where the firefighters sleep while they’re not working during the overnight shift. The union will meet with base officials next week to try to resolve the issue.

Ianola said that if the issue isn’t resolved, there might be a strike.

A few reports in the local media stating the firefighters are already on strike aren’t accurate, officials said. In the meantime, the firefighters continue to report to work, though they’re not sleeping in the quarters. Ianola said firefighters working on other shifts aren’t affected.

“In the day, people work normally,” he said.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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