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16-08-21

UK firefighters deployed to help tackle Greek wildfires have arrived safely home

The 21-strong team of UK firefighters deployed to help tackle the devastating wildfires in Greece have now arrived safely back in the UK (16th August).

Prior to leaving, the team met with the Deputy Minister of Civil Protection in Athens - Nikos Chardalias - to receive an official thank you for their hard work.

For the past seven days, the team has worked under gruelling conditions – with soaring temperatures and constantly changing weather conditions - in a bid to offer vital assistance to the Greek authorities.

The Home Secretary made the urgent request to the National Fire Chiefs Council to send support to Greece. The team mobilised quickly - via NFCC’s National Resilience function - to offer vital British firefighter support.

From the time the team arrived a week ago, firefighters worked tirelessly in a range of locations across the Peloponnese area in Southern Greece, moving to a number of different areas as Greek authorities required urgent assistance.

The highly trained team worked across several villages to help protect people and properties. Alongside the firefighting, the crews used chainsaws to remove trees, created fire breaks to prevent the movement of embers and to help protect electrical power feeds and damped down wildfire hotspots to prevent them spreading. They worked clearing roads allowing fire vehicles access, while creating escape and evacuation routes.

Specialised drone operators used technology to identify fire movement and carried out thermal assessments. This brought huge benefits in planning where activity should be carried out and how long they could safely work in an area for.

The teams were made up of staff from Merseyside, Lancashire, South Wales, London, West Midlands and Northumberland fire and rescue services; grateful for the opportunity to help their friends and colleagues in Greece.

Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “I am extremely grateful to our team of 21 firefighters from across the UK who supported the Greek emergency services in responding to the wildfires. As they safety return home, I would like to thank them for their vital contribution to improving the situation in Greece.”

Mark Hardingham, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, commented: “I am incredibly proud of the National Resilience team of firefighters and officers who have worked tirelessly in Greece. They have worked under arduous conditions in soaring heat, with their sole priority being the protection of lives, property and the wider environment.

“This just goes to show how adaptable, professional and passionate UK firefighters are about their roles; regardless of who needs their help they are always ready, willing and able.

In addition to those who went to Greece we had many other firefighters from across the UK volunteering if further assistance was required.

“The entire country can be proud of the role the highly skilled and professional team played and I look forward to welcoming them home on their safe return. The situation in Greece remains serious and we are on standby to offer further assistance, as and when required.”

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