British firefighters are deploying urgently - at the Home Secretary’s request - to help Greece as wildfires continue to devastate parts of that country.
Teams from Merseyside, Lancashire, South Wales, London and West Midlands fire services will fly to Athens this weekend.
The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) National Resilience team is responding to a formal request from the Home Secretary to give operational assistance to Greece.
The team of experts will be deployed alongside their Greek counterparts in tactical firefighting. Any team sent by NFCC is entirely self-sufficient; ensuring that no additional burden is placed upon a country already suffering demands on its resources when faced with the aftermath of sudden onset disasters.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I’ve seen first-hand this week the devastating wildfires ripping through Greece and the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with our Greek friends at this difficult time.
“I’ve asked the National Fire Chiefs Council to send out a specialist team to provide support in responding to this emergency. I am immensely grateful to the brave firefighters for stepping forward and volunteering to help and their expertise will be invaluable in supporting the Greek emergency services.”
Hardingham, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, commented: “The UK Fire and Rescue Service will be offering support to our colleagues in Greece, along with their communities who need assistance during these devastating wildfires.
“NFCC’s National Resilience function is in place to deploy both in the UK and overseas - and the team is highly skilled at responding to extreme events such as these. We can offer professional and technical skills to our fire family in Greece at a time when help is needed; it is ingrained in the professional nature of FRS staff to assist.”
The fires are largely due to the country’s most severe heatwave in 30 years, with temperatures soaring to more than 40 degrees centigrade in some areas. More fires are likely, with forecasts of strong winds and searing temperatures.
Previous deployments include Iraq, Turkey, Algeria, Pakistan, India, Iran, Mozambique, Indonesia, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, Bosnia and Nepal.