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Euro firefighters head to Greece for the summer

The first of a total of 250 European forest firefighters arrived on Monday to assist the work of the Greek authorities during the current firefighting season.

On Friday, 11 leaders of these Euro firefighting units are expected to arrive in order to meet with their Greek counterparts and learn about the Hellenic Fire Service’s operational plans.

The arrival of foreign firefighters in Greece, not in the midst of major fires as has been the case until now, but in advance and before the outbreak of forest fires, is part of a grid of measures and initiatives implemented at the highest levels of government at the end of last year’s disastrous summer.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had already made it clear to his interlocutors at the end of last August that he would “not hesitate to invite experienced foreign firefighters to help with forest firefighting next summer.”

In the months that followed, Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides, in collaboration with Deputy Minister Evangelos Tournas and General Secretary Vassilis Papageorgiou, carried out the ambitious government plan by convincing the European Commission to fund the pre-deployment of 250 European forest firefighters to Greece.

The plan’s philosophy is as follows: Foreign firefighters will arrive in time and be immediately available if conditions warrant it, and no valuable time will be lost until the European Civil Protection Mechanism is activated. Furthermore, the operational coexistence of foreign and Greek forestry officers is expected to result in the exchange of best practices.

The pilot project involves six countries: Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, France, Norway and Finland, with the French and Romanians assisting the country with personnel and resources last year as well. Forest firefighters from Bulgaria, Romania and France, according to Fire Service officials, are expected in Greece with their own vehicles, while the others will only participate with personnel. They will work out of Athens, Larissa and Tripoli.