A convoy of vehicles from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service set off for eastern Europe on 19 April to support firefighters working on the front line in war-torn Ukraine.
Two fire engines and a hydraulic platform are being donated to Ukrainian firefighters after a call to support the war effort came from the Home Office and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). They are being driven by a team of nine firefighters and officers, who have volunteered to make the seven-day round trip. They are being supported by a small team of mechanics until their departure across the Channel. Two more fire engines, driven by a separate team of six personnel, are set to leave early next month.
More than 75 members of staff volunteered to deliver the vehicles, along with hundreds of pieces of surplus firefighting equipment, including hose reels, helmets and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Polish State Fire Service, whose staff will then transfer the convoy on to Ukraine.
The equipment will be used to support firefighters, emergency services and volunteers who are battling together on the front line, often using old or worn equipment. The have been dealing daily with fires and other emergencies to save lives, people and property since the war started in February.
The fire engine doors bear the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service logo with the words ‘Supporting Ukraine’. Inside the driver’s cabs are stickers which read: ‘In solidarity and support of the people of Ukraine, from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’. The Service even made and saved to a USB pen drive a short video, narrated by a Ukrainian-speaking firefighter and demonstrating how to use the hydraulic platform.
Mark Cashin, Chief Fire Officer of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘We know that this donation of equipment and vehicles is very much needed so we are proud to be able to offer our support. The firefighters who will be using it going forward are often under devastating attacks while doing their job protecting their communities. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian Firefighters who are protecting their communities in the most difficult of circumstances.’
UK charity Fire Aid and International Development (Fire Aid) and the NFCC have already coordinated and delivered donations of more that 5,000 items of fire and rescue equipment and PPE. In March around 22 vehicles, related kit and equipment were delivered in convoy to Ukraine.
Cheshire Fire Authority continually invests in new fire engines, specialist vehicles and keeps its equipment as up to date as possible. Chair of Cheshire Fire Authority Cllr Bob Rudd said: ‘When we heard of the appeal, we were only too pleased to be able to help our colleagues in Ukraine during what is truly a difficult time. We had a number of vehicles and equipment no longer in operational use so they will now be put to good effect supporting Ukrainian firefighters who are protecting their communities. On behalf of Cheshire Fire Authority, I would like to send the people in Ukraine our very best wishes.’