For over ten years staff from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have undertaken numerous humanitarian aid activities in countries throughout Eastern Europe. In 2012 these activities eventually focused on supporting communities in Mures County, Transylvania, leading to the formation of a small independent charity – Operation Sabre. The charity has expanded its membership to around twenty and now draws upon volunteers from Shropshire and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services. The charity’s vision is to assist in shaping the future of Transylvania, by preserving and protecting its communities and heritage from the effects of fire and other emergencies. In doing so, public benefit is achieved through the sharing of knowledge, expertise, equipment and resources to advance the understanding of fire protection, prevention and emergency response arrangements.
Working in close partnership with Inspectoratul pentru Situații de Urgență Horea (Mures County Fire and Rescue Service) and the Mihai Eminescu Trust, Operation Sabre has carried out several successful visits to Mures County, delivering to date, 22 equipped firefighting vehicles and over 2,000 sets of firefighting uniform, together with appropriate training (nine of these vehicles were delivered during 2015/16). Under the guidance and direction of the Chief Inspector Dorin Oltean1 of Mures County Fire and Rescue Service, these vehicles have been strategically sited throughout Mures County and neighbouring communities to provide vital fire protection and response provision in remote villages and towns. In many instances this has led to the creation of new fire stations by local communities, which in some circumstances has overcome what was previously a 45-60 minute wait for the nearest Mures fire engine to attend.