FIRE AID’s biggest single equipment delivery to date arrives in Ukraine
Wildfires have been increasing dramatic in recent years, as global warming is leading to longer, harsher droughts and more extreme weather events. During 2020 Ukraine experienced over 140 devastating wildfires, which at points spread across 93 square kilometres and burnt for weeks. These wildfires destroyed over 1,000 fire fighters personal protective equipment leaving it burnt and badly damaged. The equipment was no longer effectively keeping these fire fighters safe. At the same time perfectly useable decommissioned equipment that had come to the end of its UK warranted life was donated to FIRE AID from various UK fire and rescue services.
The project grew from there, and in November 2021 a convoy of 6 fire appliances and a lorry carrying over 2,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) left the UK for Ukraine, funded by Blythswood Care and the Scottish Emergency Rescue Association (SERA). This donation, our biggest single donation of fire fighting aid yet, brought together 15 different organisations from across the UK and Ukraine.
Michael Pitney Station Manager from Kent FRS and FIRE AID Trustee said: “Collaboration is key with everything we do in FIRE AID. We bring together our knowledge, skills and resources for the good of the country we are helping. This project is the pinnacle of that, with charities coming together under the FIRE AID umbrella alongside various fire and rescue services and most importantly the fire service in Ukraine. There truly is a ‘we are doing this with them rather than for them’ mentality. A true collaboration and partnership from start to finish”
The convoy made up of volunteer drivers from the Scottish FRS, Devon and Somerset FRS, Kent FRS, London Fire Brigade and South Wales FRS worked together to drive the appliances over 1,900 miles. The project brought together two regions in Ukraine; Zhytomyr and Poltava where equipment donations where split evenly between the two fire services. Drivers from both regions joined the convoy on route to support the long drive back to Ukraine. This is the first time UK fire fighters have driven the appliances alongside the Ukrainian’s and it was a great way for Ukrainian fire fighters to understand the challenges of this scale and type of delivery.
Oleksii Heraimovych Station Commander from Zhytomyr said: “Working alongside UK fire fighters to drive the appliances was a great experience, along the way we shared stories and experiences of our work as fire fighters. Although the drive was a challenge we worked together to ensure the equipment arrived safely in Ukraine. We now have enough personal protective equipment for 70% of fire fighter in the Zhytomyr region. This equipment was much needed; the donation will help protect fire fighters and our local community. Thank you”
The team arrived in Ukraine 3 days after leaving the UK and took part in 3 days familiarisation training with the Ukrainian fire service to ensure they are confident in handling the donated equipment. The team trained a total of 50 fire fighters in road traffic response, ladders and pumps.
This convoy builds on FIRE AID, Kent FRS and EASST’s most recent project in 2019, supported by FedEx Express Europe, which included training and the donation of 2 decommissioned fire appliances alongside 12 modern road traffic extrication sets. These extrication sets were used to extricate over 200 people during 2020 alone.
A huge THANK YOU to Michael Pitney, Jo Harfleet, Gary Bennett, Finlay Mackenzie, Claire Hoyland and Andy Young for their hard work in getting this project off the ground.