An HWFRS team has recently returned from Poland following their safe delivery of a third fire engine to support the Ukraine fire service. This follows a continuing request from the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), for UK Fire Services to donate any equipment and vehicles due to be replaced, decommissioned or disposed of, to help Ukrainian firefighters deal with the impacts of the Russian invasion of their country.
Following the Service's previous donations of two appliances, therefore, a third appliance has now been driven out after its removal from the HWFRS fleet at the end of its service life, as well as a range of surplus equipment. This was the fourth convoy to Poland and the Service's third donation of an appliance.
Area Commander Sam Pink, the Service's Assistant Director for Assets, who helped put together the HWFRS relief support to Ukraine, said: "The Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority continually invests in new fire engines for the Service, which this year has resulted in three older fire engines being available for donation to this worthy cause."
Volunteering to make the long and arduous trip were Watch Commanders Dave Vickress and Catherine Chesworth, and Crew Commander Nick Baker, from Leintwardine, Ewyas Harold and Eardisley stations respectively.
A couple of weeks of intense planning were required before the team was able to drive down to Kent where they were registered and checked, before the convoy set off on its long trip to Poland to hand over the assets to Polish firefighters and their onward deployment to Ukraine. Describing their trip, the team spoke of the mix of huge privilege, high emotions and great gratitude they felt for the hospitality and warm welcome they received.
Dave Vickress said:
"It was a privilege to be chosen to represent the Service and an amazing week - along the way, cars and lorries were hooting their horns in support, and waving at the convoy. Arriving at our final destination, we were welcomed and hosted by German and Polish firefighters, with a special welcome in Erfurt in Germany from the Mayor."
Catherine Chesworth commented:
"It was a journey of emotional ups and downs and I felt very honoured to be part of the crew. A refugee we met stressed the number of lives each fire engine would save and the hope it gives them."
Nick Baker added:
"All the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all of the appliances and kit arrive ready for action need a special mention. The pride I felt when handing over the appliance representing both HWFRS, and my station Eardisley, was immense".
Chief Fire Officer Jon Pryce said:
"I'm proud that HWFRS has now been able to donate a third fire engine, with three of our firefighters driving over to Europe to deliver it. We are pleased to do anything we can to help Ukraine's firefighters during this difficult time.
"I'd like to thank Dave, Catherine and Nick for giving up their time to make the long and tiring journey to Poland.
"I would also like to thank Area Commander Sam Pink, the Service's Assistant Director for Assets who helped coordinate the logistics for the trip, as well as numerous others who assisted with the process, including the Operational Logistics and Operational Policy departments.
"I also want to pay tribute to the ongoing support of the NFCC, and national charity Fire Aid."
You can find out more about the NFCC's latest support for Ukraine's firefighters here.