Water tender for volunteer firefighters in Greece

 

19/1/2016

Our fire station was initiated in late 1999 and originally worked in partnership with the Municipality of Ekali, a suburb North of Athens (Greece). The council provided the fire appliances, the station facilities and the drivers who were ordinary council workers with little training and hardly any equipment. The drivers worked in paid shift patterns and the volunteers performed the firefighting intitiatives.

Over the years we established that this hybrid set-up was not really achieving its full potential and could not fully embrace the volunteer ethic. By 2007 we had created our own charter consolidating us into a certified NGO and by 2010 we owned our first rapid response fire truck, a Mitsubishi L200 with a 900lt tank on the back, which was bought through donations.

In 2011, with the merging of municipalities, our station fell under the response area of the municipality of Kifissia, that joined Kifissia, Nea Erythrea and Ekali and gave us a response area of 19km2 incorporating 70,000 residents and a widely varied geographical footprint including motorways, residential areas, industrial zones, forest/rural etc. We then managed to purchase our second fire truck, a Mercedes 1222, 1986 model, second hand from Germany, with 2500lt water and were further allocated another Mercedes fire truck with 2500lt of water  by the Municipality of Kifissia.

By this time we had become completely autonomous and were now able to really make things work. Over the years, through various fundraising initiatives, we have managed to supply our station and volunteers with a decent amount of fire fighting equipment, albeit, a lot of it is second hand. As we do not receive any help from the state, our viability relies heavily on donations from both supporters in the local community and beyond, as well the volunteers themselves who will often pay large amounts of their own money to keep the station running (like the fire trucks insurance policies, services, servicing of equipment etc).

Nonetheless, we are a committed group of approximately 47 volunteers whose aim is to provide the best possible emergency service to our local community, with a dedication to safety and commitment to our cause.

Our station attends between 300-400 incidents a year ranging from forest fires, structural fires, vehicle and rubbish fires, road traffic collisions, flood operations and rescues resultinf from serious weather conditions. We mainly use U.S. and U.K. fire service standards for our training that we have adapted to suit the requirements and protocols of the Hellenic Fire Service to whom we answer and work alongside. Most importantly, the presence of our station has reduced the ‘first truck on scene’ response time for our local area by approximately 6 to 8 minutes. As such, our average response time to any incident in our area in approximately 4 minutes.

The crisis Greece is going through over the last few years has certainly had an impact on all areas of volunteering. Moreover, it has demoralised people who have started to lose incentive, especially as many of them are unemployed or employed but unpaid.

We have decided that it is time to further enhance the operational capabilities of our organisation and create new incentives especially for our younger volunteers. We have decided to do this by purchasing a water tender for our fire station. This will enable us to:

  • Have a sufficient water supply at large incidents as there is a lack of mains hydrants and we are constantly struggling in this area when water is required.
  • Expand our area of response which will provide a greater incentive for our non-local and younger volunteers
  • Provide mutual aid to the Hellenic Fire and Rescue Service at large incidents where water tenders are in demand.
  • Initiate an effective practical training package for our newer volunteers as they can ride the water tender alongside an experienced driver without the need for a crew manager, learn to map read, how to speak on the radio, learn fire ground support operations. This is achievable as the truck will not be responding as a primary attack unit and, therefore, the risk will be lower and manageable.

We are looking at raising approximately 25,000 euros which will cover:

  • Purchasing a second hand water tender from either Germany, Austria or the Netherlands
  • Taxation costs
  • Shipping costs to Greece
  • Insurance costs for shipping
  • Border control/customs costs
  • Issuance of registration and special number plates as a firefighting vehicle
  • First service

We believe that this initiative comprises an important, yet natural,  progression for our fire station that will open new and exciting incentives.  Your support is extremely valuable in enabling us to fulfil our mission. One of the most amazing things about this type of volunteering is seeing our personel giving 110% of themselves, selflessly, to secure the safety of others, no matter how difficult or dangerous the situation.

There are so many more wonderful things to say about our organisation. Please visit our website for more information on our fire station and if you can’t find the information you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact us.

With respects

The VFFRE

www.oedd.gr/en

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