Greece welcomed on Friday the first contingent of a total of 200 EU firefighters who started their mission to assist the work of their Greek colleagues during the summer firefighting season.
The Romanian contingent, which was the first foreign unit to arrive, comprises 28 firefighters and five vehicles. The contingent will remain in Athens until the end of July. On August 1, they will be replaced by 25 French firefighters with four tenders and three auxiliary vehicles.
Other units, from Bulgaria, Germany, Norway, and Finland, will be based in Larissa and Tripoli during July and August.
LIke the Romanians, French and Bulgarians will bring their own vehicles, while the Germans, Finns and Norwegians will bring equipment like pumps and hoses that can be fitted Greek tenders. The Norwegians will also bring a drone.
Each foreign unit will be assigned a Greek colleague who will act as a liaison.
The Bulgarian firefighting team, comprising 16 firefighters and four vehicles, will be based in Larissa during July.
The German group will arrive in Tripoli mid-July, where they will remain for two weeks, before being replaced by 14 Norwegian and 24 Finnish colleagues.
EU firefighters hope to prevent the 2021 catastrophe
Greece is bracing for the fire season hoping to avoid a repeat of 2021 when it was hit by some of the most devastating fires in recent history in the northern part of Evia island and West Attica.
The new fire season started on May 1st and it will last until October 31st. The New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which in 2021 admitted to shortcomings in dealing with hundreds of fires spontaneously across the country, is stepping up preparations.
Greece creates new firefighting force for fire season
Greece has taken additional steps to prevent a repeat of 2021’s catastrophe by hiring more firefighters, utilizing the army, and banning all activities near wooded areas on days when there is a high risk of fire.
Earlier in May, the Fire Service created a new corps and began training 500 specialist firefighters. They will serve for seven years with 440 designated as specialist firefighting personnel and 60 as scientific firefighting personnel specializing in forestry.
This new corps will be active in forests in cooperation with foresters and scientific experts. They will not only serve during a crisis but throughout the year by contributing to preventative projects. They will also be the vanguard in all efforts to tackle blazes, as they will be transported by helicopter to the center of the fire.