Volunteers from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service set off early today (Monday, June 3rd) on a 1,800 mile aid trip to transport more much needed fire engines to Romania.
Two fire engines and a Land Rover with 500 firefighting uniforms on board left fire stations in Shrewsbury and Telford bound for Targu Mures in Romania at 3.30am today (Monday June 3).
They will be the 13th UK fire appliances to be delivered to needy rural areas in Romania and Bulgaria over the past few years by staff from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Firefighters, back room staff, a Press Officer, fire authority member and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Steve Worrall have all given up their holiday to deliver the much needed equipment.
Rural Romania still uses "medieval" firefighting equipment including buckets of water passed from man to man delivered on 1950's flat bed trucks with cracked windscreens.
It is not unusual for houses to be demolished to create a fire break to stop fire spreading through a village, said Newport firefighter Charlie Cartwright, who also works in Community Fire Safety at Shrewsbury fire HQ.
Volunteers load donated fire kit onto an appliance
The firefighting uniforms, to replace the Romanians’ inadequate and unsafe firefighting kit, have been donated by the LHD Group in Middlesex, which provides protective clothing to many UK fire and rescue services. The organisation has also made a donation towards buying the fire trucks.
The contingent set off aboard the fire appliances and a Land Rover for the week long trip to Transylvania travelling by ferry to France and on to Germany, Austria and Romania stopping at fire stations on the way.
The Shropshire delegation has paid £150 each towards the trip and have raised more than £4,000 with charitable events. The nine members on the aid trip will decorate an old people's home in Romania during their stay.
The trip is being made with the help of the Mihai Eminescu Trust which preserves ancient villages in Romania. The Trust patron is Prince Charles who has a home in Romania.