Firefighters sent to Greece to train for bush blazes

Firefighters sent to Greece to train for bush blazes

3 November 2008

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United Kingdom/Greece — Firemen have been sent on a £19,000 trip to Greece to learn how to tackle bush fires.

It was response to fears that global warming could lead to more grass and forest fires in the UK.

A team of 40 firemen from across the country went on the two-week, £473-a-head trip to the village of Rizomata – where temperatures hit 111F (44C) in the summer.

The firemen stayed in a camp and were drilled in dealing with grassland fires using local fire trucks and equipment.

The trip was organised by fire chiefs in response to a government report which claimed climate change would lead to more hot summers in the UK, and therefore more severe grassland and forest fires.

Although one firefighter described the trip as a ‘waste of money’ Tony Ciaramella, assistant chief fire officer at Greater Manchester, said it was important.

“One of the ways we are improving both how we tackle grassland and forest fires and the safety of our firefighters when they are doing so, is to learn from those with far greater experience,” he said.

“This training exercise gave us an opportunity to learn from and work with, European and other UK firefighters, through a nationally organised event.”

The ‘intensive’ training trip ran for two weeks, with participants given training in tactics, ground skills and deployment of resources to combat wild fires.

A fire brigade management source said: “They stayed in basic accommodation, there was an alcohol ban, and a 12 midnight curfew. It wasn’t a holiday.” The training was organised by the Chief Fire Officers Association, in conjunction with the Greek government.

But one Greater Manchester firefighter said: “This Greek trip was just a junket and a waste of fire service resources.

“We don’t need training to learn how to put out moorland fires we have been doing it for decades.”

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