Polish firefighters supporting local communities in Polish Aid target countries
For many years, the State Fire Service (SFS) of Poland has been involved in international development assistance and aid programmes. Within the Polish Aid programme, the State Fire Service supports the establishment and development of fire service units and training centres in Georgia and Ukraine. It is also involved in the organisation of specialised education systems: it organises courses to train the trainers of future firefighters and trains firefighters in the area of road, water and chemical rescue operations
Moreover, Polish firefighters promote voluntary firefighting among young people and help to establish volunteer firefighting units. Thanks to the Polish Aid programme, firefighters from Poland’s neighbouring countries have received fire rescue equipment. All these measures are intended to help firefighters in various countries to improve the quality of the rescuer education and the management system within the fire service.
The Main School of Fire Service and the Voivodship Headquarters of the State Fire Service in Krakow were also involved in such aid projects in 2019–2020.
The Main School of Fire Service engaged in cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia where it helped to establish regional rescue centres. Multiple-module container training units were built, personal protective equipment and specialised equipment for the teaching process was purchased and delivered. Instructors were trained, and a training programme for practical vocational training instructors was developed and implemented.
In Ukraine, the Voivodship Headquarters of the State Fire Service in Krakow carried out training activities devoted to technical and road rescue operations and internal fires. Additionally, it purchased and donated to the Ukrainian partners the equipment necessary for training, including personal protective equipment and hydraulic rescue tools. Additionally, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, four tents with equipment which can serve as field emergency rooms or facilities for decontamination and fumigation of contaminated persons and equipment were purchased and donated as part of aid measures. Moreover, four thermal foggers, i.e. specialised disinfection devices, were purchased and donated.
In 2020, the State Fire Service was also involved in international assistance campaigns, involving those undertaken in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Polish assistance was provided to Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia). The State Fire Service sent humanitarian aid transports to those countries with supplies of medical and protective masks, disinfectant liquid, coats and overalls, face visors, breathing aid devices and medicines.
Importantly, it was Polish firefighters who supported Lebanon after the explosion at the ammonium nitrate factory in the city’s port in August 2020 by sending USAR Poland to Beirut. USAR Poland is a specialist search-and-rescue group of the State Fire Service, made up of 39 rescuers and four dogs. Working in high temperatures, Polish rescuers (chemical rescue specialists among them) identified places where victims of the explosion may have been located while rescue dogs helped to search for people trapped under the rubble. Notably, the Poles covered the largest zone from among all zones designated by local authorities and, apart from the French, were the only foreign rescue team to receive permission to operate in the civilian zone.
By sharing their specialist knowledge, supporting the specialist education system and through training centres cooperation, Poland’s State Fire Service engages in cooperation and provision of much needed equipment to Eastern Partnership countries, thus helping the rescue services in neighbouring countries to improve their competences. Additionally, considering the high level of social trust in fire service in Poland, the State Fire Service helps to boost public confidence in local rescue services.
by National Headquarters of the State Fire Service of Poland