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A delegation of 8 officers and volunteers travelled to Greece to assist local firefighters in putting forest fires out as part of strengthening the cooperation between the two countries.
The visit and cooperation follow the state visit to Greece by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich in June 2013, during which the two countries mutually agreed, inter alia, on closer cooperation between their respective firefighting services. A high ranking Greek firefighting delegation, headed by Greece’s firefighting chief commissioner, made a return visit to Israel later on. In June 2014, an Israeli delegation headed by Fire & Rescue Commissioner Shahar Ayalon reached Greece to observe the international EU “Prometheus 2014” firefighting drill and maneuvers.
In the course of their meeting in Athens, the Israeli and Greek commissioners concluded that a delegation of Greek firefighters will arrive in Israel this summer. This delegation will be incorporated into various ongoing operations, with an emphasis on open areas.
The Israeli delegation, comprising of 5 officers and 3 volunteers, is staying at the Emak police base in Elefsina. During their stay, they have been divided into two teams which operate on a 24/24 basis. They have already taken part in firefighting operations against forest fires at the island of Kefalonia.
Major Moshe Amar, Chief instructor at the national fire and rescue academy and one of the heads of the Israeli delegation: “my team was sent on the double at 5 AM to a fire on the island of Kefalunia by helicopter. We flew for about two hours, and then drove to the fire. We worked alongside the local teams. Then, we slept on site at the forest and went back to base by ferry and by the local firefighters’ bus. The journey back took five hours. We came back the following day at four after 35 hours of a truly fascinating experience, albeit exhausted. There is no doubt the Greek firefighters work very hard. They do things completely differently here”.
The Israeli teams also helped firefighting efforts in Delfino, about three hours from the unit base, where they assisted in putting out major forest fires in the southern tip of the Peloponnese.