South America

Operation Florian in South America

For the last five years Operation Florian has been supporting the embryonic fire service in Paraguay. The fire service in Paraguay is all volunteer and receives little or no funding from Local or Central Government, it relies almost exclusively on public donations this in a country that has one third of the population living below the poverty line. It is a credit to the fire fighters that they give their free time to help and support their fellow citizens.

During the last five years Operation Florian has donated 12 Fire Appliances, breathing apparatus, extrication equipment, uniforms, compressors, in fact everything and anything that goes to making an efficient and modern fire service. Over and above that, over 30 instructors have volunteered to spend time training their Paraguayan colleagues.

After numerous appeals from poorly funded and equipped Fire Services within other South American Countries, we are now hoping to assist Ecuador where an appliance and a container has already been dispatched, and to Uruguay and Chile where appliances, uniforms and equipment has already been earmarked and awaiting shipping, it is anticipated that instructors will follow during the course of this year to provide assistance and training.

The Turks and Caicos Islands
In 2004 an Operation Florian representative carried out a scoping mission in the British West Indies. Briefly the Island Fire Service was just being developed, since then they have received 3 fire appliances, uniforms and equipment and two operation Florian instructors went there to assist in training. Also nine recruits under took basic training in the UK. It is anticipated subject to the CFO budget allocation that further specialist instructors may well be required to go out.

During the course of the last year we have formed a close and cooperative association between ourselves and a sister organisation in Scotland whose aims are identical to Operation Florian. The organisation “International Fire Rescue Association” has been involved both in Paraguay and in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They also have a web site on which is a more detailed account of the ventures they have been involved with and their current aims.

Written by Colin Cunliffe