Merseyside firefighters are among those being deployed to help Greece as wildfires continue to devastate parts of the country.
The team is made up of firefighters from Merseyside, Lancashire, London, South Wales, West Midlands and NRAT (National Resilience Assurance Team) Officers. They are expected to fly to Athens today.
The deployment comes following a formal request to the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) National Resilience team from the Home Secretary to give operational assistance to Greece.
The team will be led by officers from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) – the lead authority for National Resilience – and will be overseen by MFRS’ Deputy Chief Fire Officer Nick Searle in his lead role for National Resilience.
The team of experts will be deployed alongside their Greek counterparts in tactical firefighting. Any team sent 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.”
MFRS’ Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “The team of 21 firefighters will offer professional and technical skills to our friends and colleagues in Greece at a time when they need us most. I have no doubt that our teams will do all they can to assist our colleagues in Greece, along with their communities, during these devastating wildfires.
“I am extremely proud that we and other Fire & Rescue Services from across the country have been able to step up and mobilise a team within 24 hours of the initial request. It is by no means a surprise – helping people is what we do and our desire to help will not be limited by borders.
“Our Greece counterparts are struggling to deal with the scale of the wildfires. These fires are devastating the communities and putting lives at risk and it is only right that we as a country 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.
NFCC’s National Resilience function is in place to deploy both in the UK and overseas. Previous deployments include Iraq, Turkey, Algeria, Pakistan, India, Iran, Mozambique, Indonesia, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, Bosnia and Nepal.