Mike Dayson Op FlorianCleveland Fire Brigade firefighters will be heading off to Zimbabwe later this month to help launch a 5-year partnership with charity Operation Florian.

The aim of the partnership with the international humanitarian charity is to help provide fire equipment and training to the Harare Fire and Ambulance Service in Zimbabwe. The service has little funding for equipment and often turns up to incidents, such as road traffic collisions, with inadequate tools to deal with the situation. 

The Operation Florian project started in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and was spearheaded by former Bulawayo firefighter Shepherd Ndlovu, who is now a Senior Lecturer in Fire Safety Engineering at the School of Forensic and Investigative Science at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston. Ndlovu is also helping to develop students studying BSc (Hons) Fire Leadership Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. 

Watch Manager Mike Dayson and Crew Manager Andy Cook, who are both from Redcar Fire Station, along with Crew Manager Stephen Graham from Stockton Station and retired Watch Manager Bill Hatfield will be part of the team taking part in the initial mission to Harare. 

The team will spend three weeks there taking over equipment donated by Cleveland Fire Brigade and others including Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, University of Central Lancashire and training about 100 firefighters in using breathing apparatus and dealing with road traffic collisions.

“This will be the second time I have assisted Operation Florian in Zimbabwe,” said Dayson. “Last year I was part of a team that helped Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Service which is approximately 400KM from Harare. We delivered donated equipment as well as training over 300 firefighters to help transform their service into a more modern one to help keep their communities safer.

“I am really looking forward to the trip which I know will be challenging, but I know it will help make such a difference to the Harare Fire and Ambulance Service and the people it serves. As well as commencing the training, we will be helping to plan the next five years and how we can assist them.

Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “By working in partnership with Operation Florian we can help make a real difference to both the Harare Fire and Ambulance Service and the local community.

“Over the next five years staff from Cleveland Fire Brigade will be involved in providing training in a wide variety of aspects from first aid, trauma and ambulance training, incident command training and rescue training to community fire education training.

“We have previously assisted Operation Florian and sent members from Cleveland Fire Brigade over to Zimbabwe. We have also been one of five other Brigades who have donated equipment which included nine fire appliances, breathing apparatus sets, road traffic collision tools and old uniforms. This new five year partnership shows our commitment to the charity and also offers great opportunities to our staff who will be involved.”