TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE - FIRE ENGINES DONATED TO KURSK
Firefighters in West Sussex are helping colleagues in the Russian district of Kursk by donating fire engines and equipment that have been retired from operational service in the UK.
'Fire Safety Friends of Russia' is a charitable trust established by Chris Holgate, a retired West Sussex Fire Officer. Children affected by the Chernobyl disaster had become annual visitors to Shoreham Fire Station and Chris saw for himself the poor standard of equipment given to Kursk firefighters on a return visit.
An average of 160 people per year were dying in fires in the Kursk district alone, many of whom were children, and Chris set up links to the local fire service in particular to improve
Working with the Childrens Fire & Burn Trust in the UK, he has produced a fire safety manual and educational CD-Rom for use in Russian schools and sought help from Martin Burrell, Chief Fire Officer for West Sussex County Councils Fire & Rescue Service.
CFO Burrell became patron of the Fire Safety Friends of Russia and has been able to arrange for the donation of old equipment that had been taken out of service in the UK including
The charity has raised the estimated £8000 it will cost to ship the fire engines and equipment to Russia.
Volunteer drivers left the fire service workshops at Tangmere near Chichester on Thursday 17th November to drive the fire engines to Tilbury docks where they will be put on a container ship bound for St Petersburg. Russian firefighters will then collect them and drive the 800 miles to their new base in Kursk.
"The equipment would not be used in a modern UK fire service", explained CFO Burrell, "and has comparatively little re-sale value. We were therefore glad to be able to help the Fire Safety Friends of Russia with their work in Kursk, and are naturally pleased our old equipment will still be used to save lives and improve fire safety standards."
Once the equipment has been transported, Chris Holgate and two serving West Sussex firefighters will be travelling to Kursk to help train their Russian colleagues on it's use. Plans are also in hand for the charity to open a fire safety office in Kursk.