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    Polish Firefighters Extend a Helping Hand to Greece in Battling Forest Fires

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    On Wednesday, July 19, Polish firefighters set off to aid Greece, which has been grappling with forest fires in the Attica region. This marks the 18th foreign mission for the Polish State Fire Service (PSP) and the 7th rescue mission in recent times. The mission comprises 149 personnel and 49 vehicles. Once again, Greece has been struck by devastating wildfires, and Poland has responded promptly to extend its assistance.

    The decision to send help was made in agreement with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, as Minister Mariusz Kamiński informed the public. He instructed Commander Andrzej Bartkowiak to prepare the firefighters for deployment, much like two years ago when they aided in extinguishing fires in southern Europe.

    During a press conference held in Krakow, Deputy Chief Commander of PSP, Brig. Arkadiusz Przybyła, praised the swift and efficient response of the State Fire Service and its rapid mobilization for action. He expressed gratitude to all the firefighters for their punctual arrival, stating that the entire nation of Poland, and indeed Europe and the world, takes pride in their dedication and bravery.

    Poland was the first country to respond to Greece’s request for help, offering assistance, which was duly accepted by the Greek government. The Polish firefighters departed in a team of 149 rescuers and 49 vehicles, with the group primarily consisting of personnel from the Małopolskie and Wielkopolskie voivodeships. The team is scheduled to arrive in Attica on July 21 or 22, and the mission is expected to last approximately two weeks. Additionally, firefighters from Slovakia and Romania will also be part of the firefighting efforts.

    Greece, situated on the Balkan Peninsula, has been grappling with fires caused by a wave of extreme heat for several days. The strong winds have accelerated the spread of the flames, making firefighting operations more challenging.

    The GFFFV Module Assisting Greece

    The GFFFV (Ground Forest Fire Fighting using Vehicles) is a specialized module used for firefighting from the ground, utilizing vehicles. Currently, Poland has six such modules as part of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, stationed in Krakow, Białystok, Poznan, Olsztyn, Szczecin, and Wrocław. Each module is self-sufficient and equipped not only with standard firefighting equipment but also with necessary logistical support.

    In Greece, the Polish firefighters will establish their own camp. They are well-stocked with water, food, financial resources, and energy sources in the form of generators to sustain their operations.

    A History of International Support by Polish Firefighters

    Polish firefighters have garnered international acclaim for their professionalism and experience. When natural disasters such as fires or earthquakes strike, countries may seek specific assistance from their foreign partners. These actions are coordinated through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), of which Poland has been an active member since joining the European Union.

    In recent years, Polish firefighters have participated in numerous foreign missions, including Turkey (2023), France (2022), the Czech Republic (2022), Romania (2021), and Lebanon (2020). Moreover, they have also engaged in humanitarian aid transportation to the Western Balkans (in 2020 during the pandemic fight), Germany (in 2021 following floods), and Ukraine (multiple missions during the ongoing war).

    The Previous Aid to Greece in 2021

    It has been two years since Polish firefighters last aided Greece. Polish GFFFV firefighting modules were involved in combating fires in Greece from August 7 to September 1, 2021. The mission included 286 rescuers (two shifts of 143 firefighters each) and 46 vehicles, including fire engines, special vehicles, command and communication units, containers, quads, buses, and trailers.

    In times of crisis, international cooperation and solidarity play a crucial role. Polish firefighters’ dedication to assisting other nations in times of need exemplifies the values of unity and support among countries. As they embark on their mission to help Greece battle the wildfires, the thoughts and hopes of the entire nation are with these brave men and women, wishing them success and safety in their noble endeavor.

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