Ovoga puta je naš gost bloger Stiv Logan, zapovednik vatrogasne stanice iz Južnog Velsa, koji već godinama kroz različite humanitarne akcije pomaže Srbiji.
My name is Steve Logan and I am the Station Commander at Caerphilly & Rhymney Fire Stations in the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service in the UK.
In 2006 I had a chance encounter with a Scout Leader who had recently taken a group of Welsh Scouts to Serbia. He stated that whilst in Serbia they had visited a fire station and found that the vehicles and equipment were quite old. A conversation then ensued about how the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service disposed of their vehicles and equipment when they came to the end of their working life. And so the seed was sown.
Following extensive communication between the Welsh Scouts, Serbian Scouts and Serbian Firefighters, my first visit to Serbia took place in March 2007. Three Firefighters and two Scout Leaders from Caerphilly were hosted in Sremska Mitrovica and over a four day period we visited Fire Stations all across the area. On all of these visits we were accompanied by the Serbian Scouts, who acted as our translators.
Following a very busy, but enjoyable four days, and having been made to feel very welcome by everyone we met, we returned to Wales.
The team were very impressed with the professionalism of the Serbian Firefighters, but felt that there were various ways in which we could assist our Serbian colleagues to deliver a more effective service to the communities that they were serving. Following various meetings with the Chief Fire Officer and presentations to the Fire & Rescue Authority, we gained the support of the Service, who then gave a firm commitment to support the Serbian Fire Services. And so Blazing to Serbia was born.
Blazing to Serbia
Blazing to Serbia is an initiative of the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, whereby a small group of volunteers acquire equipment and vehicles and then raise the necessary money to transport these goods to Serbia. It is a requirement of Blazing to Serbia, that all team members pay their own way, because this ensures that people are part of the team for the right reasons.
Since that initial visit to Serbia in 2007, the team have visited Serbia on another 13 occasions and have brought Serbian Firefighters to Wales on two occasions. Once to visit the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service and once to complete in the World Rescue Challenge, which was held in Cardiff and was being hosted by the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service.
To date the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service has donated 23 fire engines, which have been fully laden with ladders, hydraulic rescue gear and various other equipment, to the Serbian Fire Services. These have either been transported, or driven to Serbia, as part of one of the three convoys that have been driven from South Wales. These convoys, passed through England, crossed the Channel to France via Euro Tunnel and then drove through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Hungary before entering into Serbia.
The first convoy of fire truck to be driven to Serbia was the subject of an ITV Wales television documentary, which can still be viewed at our website.
Serbia Red Cross
Since 2012, Blazing to Serbia has also been working with the Serbian Red Cross and has provided over 900Kg of clothes, shoe boxes filled with Christmas gifts for children in Sremska Mitrovica and over 300 pairs of brand new shoes for children in the area.
In August 2014, Blazing to Serbia brought two Serbia Red Cross workers and a translator to Wales, to meet with the Welsh Red Cross and to explore other ways that we could develop the cooperation which has already been established.
Serbia Forgotten Paws
This is a Charity that has been set up to improve the lives and welfare of dogs and cats in two animal shelters in Serbia. The 2014 drive to Serbia saw the team take pet food, collars, leads, baths, beds and animal welfare products to Serbia. This was the first time that Blazing to Serbia has worked with this Charity, but it certainly won't be the last.
When the Blazing to Serbia team visited Serbia in January 2014, they visited a school in Sremska Mitrovica and delivered letters from similar aged children in a school in Caerphilly. The children in Sremska Mitrovica have now responded to the children in Caerphilly and Skype addresses have been exchanged. The teachers are now trying to establish links via the ‘Connecting classrooms' project.
The 2014 project - preparation & planning
It was likely that the trucks from the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service would not be available for disposal until the middle of 2014, so the planning and fund raising for the project started in the January. The team were then engaged in activities that involved packing bags in supermarkets, washing cars, contacting various companies for sponsorship and holding a medium night, which was attended by over 300 people. It was apparent after a couple of months that we would be able to secure the necessary funding for the project, but the raising of the money would be more difficult than in previous years.
The fire trucks arrived between March and June and we were lucky enough to be given an additional fire engine from the Charity ‘Pont'. This meant that the convoy which would leave Caerphilly Castle at the start of July would consist of five trucks.
As soon as a start date had been set and the route was finalised, return flights and accommodation was booked. The five trucks were then cleaned and loaded with all different types of Fire Service equipment, products for the animal shelters and shoes for the Red Cross. As every item was stowed on the trucks it had to be documented, so that the paperwork for the Serbian Customs Service could be completed.
All of the trucks had to be taken to the sign writers and to the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service workshops for safety inspections.
Support for the project
In order for the Blazing to Serbia project to succeed, it needs lots of assistance from various companies and organisations all across Europe. This starts with the insurers of the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, who provide insurance for the journey free of charge. Euro Tunnel always provides complementary passage across the Channel to France and we are really grateful for their continued support. Fire Services all across Europe provide us with roadside assistance and breakdown cover if we need it. Our contacts in Austria and Hungary ensure that we do not need to pay road tolls, nor have a vignette. A company called High Motive always fit radios in each of the trucks, so that communication throughout the convoy is always possible. Without this sort of support, the Blazing to Serbia project would not be possible.