Staff from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service have today embarked on a 1,000-mile journey to transport vital firefighting kit to help their counterparts in Ukraine.
The deployment team, consisting of six volunteers, will drive across Europe to deliver Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s donation of two fully operational fire engines and accompanying equipment, which forms part of the wider National Fire Chiefs Council and Fire Aid initiative.
Team members Graham Abrey, Jason Anderson, Jake Booth, Paul Buck, Matt Hassey and Sean Ryan set off from Ipswich East Fire Station this morning after being waved off by well-wishers.
Their journey will see them travel to Kent to join the national convoy of vehicles departing for Ukraine. From there, they will head to Poland, where they will hand over the vehicles and kit to the Polish Fire Service, who will distribute the items to the Ukrainian fire stations most in need.
One volunteer, Inspecting Officer Jake Booth, shared why he wanted to get involved: “Having travelled through Ukraine previously I was struck by the warmth of the people and the hospitality they offered, so it’s humbling to be able to give something back at their time of need.”
His fellow team member, Firefighter Sean Ryan, added: “I am proud to be supporting our firefighter colleagues in Ukraine with this much-needed kit. I had my first blue light drive on one of the fire engines we are taking there, so it will be extra special for me to hand it over in Poland.”
All team members have undergone extensive driver and mechanical training prior to their week-long journey, as well as receiving advice from FireAid and staff who have travelled on previous convoys.
Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was devastated to hear of the loss experienced by the Ukrainian Fire Service so far, which has seen 100 fire stations and 250 fire engines needlessly destroyed in the conflict.
“We are pleased to be able to support the national effort to assist our counterparts at this difficult time by replacing some of the damaged kit, and I’d like to thank everyone who has made delivering our donation to Ukraine possible. It’s been a real team effort with staff working tirelessly around the clock to prepare the team and ensure that equipment is serviced and ready for use on arrival to the country.”
Those wishing to show their support for the convoy can follow the team’s journey on Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Twitter and Facebook accounts over the coming days.
Cllr Andrew Reid, cabinet member for Public Health and Public Protection commented: “Our council has been deeply saddened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and remains committed to doing all that we can to help the country and its people.
“I am immensely proud of our fire service for donating two engines along with other lifesaving equipment to Ukraine, which I know will make a real difference to the firefighters continuing to protect their communities during the conflict. It was a privilege to be part of the deployment team’s send off this morning and I wish them the very best of luck and a safe journey.”
The donation builds on the success of last month’s charity car washes, which saw Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service raise over £8,000 for the Disaster Emergency Committee’s Ukraine appeal and the Fire Fighters Charity.