Tom Cogley, Dave Widdup, Adam Varey, and Stewart Bromwich flew to Athens on Sunday, 8th August as part of a team of 21 firefighters from England and Wales. The group was assembled by the National Fire Chief’s Council on the request of the Home Secretary.
They linked up with crews from Merseyside, South Wales, London and the West Midlands and are part of a wider international force deployed in Greece. Britain’s representatives are specially trained to deal with extreme situations.
The four volunteers from Lancashire are members of the International Search and Rescue Team and have previously been deployed to Haiti and Japan to work in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Their roles will vary depending on what is needed, but the squad will likely tackle wildfires directly, help locals to evacuate, and provide logistical support for Greek firefighters.
The team will be in Greece for roughly ten days and will be fully self-sufficient. On their return, the situation will be re-evaluated, and it is possible that another team will be sent out in their place.
Greece is suffering its worst heatwave in over 30 years, with temperatures exceeding 40°C. Thousands have fled Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, which is engulfed by the inferno, and the blaze is terrorising Athens.
Tragically, one Greek volunteer firefighter has died fighting the flames. The nightmarish fires show little sign of slowing down.
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 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.”