Fire AID delivers training and equipment to Moldova

Main Image
UK Ambassador to Moldova, Phil Batson, speaks at the handover ceremony
UK Ambassador to Moldova, Phil Batson, speaks at the handover ceremony
One of the four ex-UK fire engines delivered to Moldova
One of the four ex-UK fire engines delivered to Moldova
Training is an important part of the project
Training is an important part of the project

The FIA Foundation has joined the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in supporting the ‘Fire AID’ initiative delivering firefighting equipment and training to middle- and low-income countries. An event at the UK Parliament on 5th June, EASST Chairman Lord Dubs of Battersea and Fire AID patron Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, will formally launch Fire AID.

In a joint project, coordinated by the Eastern Alliance for Safe & Sustainable Transport (EASST) and addressing the fifth pillar of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, 4 fully equipped firefighting appliances each with a full complement of road traffic collision extrication equipment have been delivered to fire and rescue units in the Republic of Moldova sponsored by the British Embassy in Moldova, the Embassy of the United States in Moldova and the FIA Foundation.

The equipment has been officially donated to the Civil Protection and Emergency Situations Service of the Republic of Moldova by UK fire and rescue service humanitarian charity Operation Florian, accompanied by a two week training programme delivered by UK professionals to internationally recognised standards with a particular focus on improving the emergency response to road traffic collisions in Moldova – a country which has a particularly high road fatality rate.  The overall aim is to reduce attendance times to incidents and to ensure that personnel with the right skills and equipment are able to save saveable lives. The fire equipment used is donated as UK fire services update and renew their own fleets.

The project began in October 2013 with a scoping visit to Moldova in cooperation with EASST Advisory Board member Deputy Minister Sergei Diaconu of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moldova and EASST’s local partner the Automobile Club of Moldova. The week long scoping visit introduced UK charities Operation Florian and the UK Rescue Organisation to the Republic of Moldova to carry out a full assessment of equipment and training across the country in order to determine the scope of the delivery and training content and establish key relationships. 

Following a six month planning period, the vehicle convoy left the UK on 27th April arriving in the Moldovan capital Chisinau on 1st May – driven some 1,700 miles by a team of Florian volunteers through 8 countries. The UK firefighters, many of whom were in Moldova for the first time, were warmly welcomed to Chisinau by Minister for Internal Affairs Dorin Recean and Colonel Mihail Harabagiu, Chief of the Civil Protection and Emergency Situations Service, who hosted an official handover ceremony attended by the UK Ambassador Phil Batson and Don Carroll of the US Embassy who were thanked, along with the FIA Foundation, for their sponsorship of the project which has enabled both vehicles and trainers to travel to Moldova. The televised ceremony also saw the donation of a 12-seater minibus to the Automobile Club of Moldova for use during their road safety projects.

An intensive two-week training programme began on 5th May at training centres across the country in Chisinau (central), Balti (north) and Comrat (south) conducted by an expert team of UK volunteer firefighters led by Operation Florian. Training for the Moldovan personnel included firefighting and operating techniques associated with the donated appliances for crews in the receiving locations, standard road traffic extrication (RTC) training, along with a course of first aid and trauma care training. Training was also provided to the specialist Salvatori Rescuers from Balti, Chisinau, Comrat and Cahul, focusing purely on the delivery of advanced RTC rescue instruction. 

The training concluded on 16th May with an official ceremony and a demonstration of skills learnt by the Moldovan firefighters attended by Minister Recean, Deputy British Ambassador John Kane, and American Deputy Chief of Mission Kara C. McDonald.  The UK firefighting team, led by Craig Kelsall, Bruce Hoad, George Wippich and Trevor Green were awarded for their contribution by Colonel Harabagiu. The Moldovan personnel undergoing the training received certificates in recognition of the completion of the two-week programme. Tatiana Mihailova of the ACM and Julie Utting of EASST also received medals for their contribution in organising the project.

Each of the 4 principal UK partners - EASST, Operation Florian, UKRO, Blythswood Care - is a founding member of Fire AID, an association of UK organizations involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid since 2012.  Fire AID’s principal objectives include uniting project partners to maximize added value, securing well managed, high quality projects and ensuring the provision of ethical and sustainable donations, in support of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-20. The project has demonstrated the benefits of joint projects facilitated by Fire AID for improving road crash rescue capacity. In addition to Moldova, projects have been undertaken in Russia and Ukraine, Ghana, Kenya and Bangladesh. See http://www.fire-aid.org/ for more.

Saul Billingsley, Director General of the FIA Foundation, said: “Fire AID is a practical and cost-effective way to transfer equipment and expertise from the UK to countries with serious road traffic injury problems and limited resources. It addresses the important area of post-crash care – pillar 5 of the Decade of Action Global Plan – and the critical need to ensure early and skilled intervention to rescue crash victims. So the FIA Foundation is pleased to join the UK Department for International Development and the US Embassy in Moldova in supporting this FIRE AID project. It is part of our wider support for road safety in the region, working through EASST, which is demonstrating how a partnership approach can successfully address issues of governance, catalyse legislation on seat belts and speed, support and improve police enforcement strategies and promote safer road design to protect all road users, and particularly pedestrians and children.”