Station N23 Guzurf
Station N23 Guzurf
Guzurf is located on the southern coastal tip of Crimea with the Black sea in front and a range of mountains reaching over 1200m to the rear, this is the home of Station N23 of the Crimean Fire Service.
These mountains maintain the good weather that the southern area of Crimea is renowned for, and which sees the 11,000 population rapidly increase during the summer season. Mix in a few twists and sharp turns of the mountain hillside and Vwa lah !! a constant flow of RTAs all summer. So what’s different about that I hear you say? well yes even my own station at Stratford upon Avon has an increase in tourism and RTAs during the summer.
But when you and I turn out we have nice generators and hydraulic power tools, all these guys have is a pair of bolt croppers and a crow bar (yes seriously!)
Over 18 months ago Colin Cunliffe visited the station saw the problem these crews were faced with and duly set wheels in motion with Operation Florian to assist in some way.
Equipment was gathered consisting of a Generator, Combi tool, hose, BA sets, and Fire Fighting Clothing. This was then shipped out in December of 2004 and by May the equipment had finally got through the Customs red tape.
On my first day I was shown around by their station commander, who explained the who, what and where of Station N23, and from the off there were many similarities to my own station back home, and no doubt many around the UK.
It was a two pump station with a special appliance crewed by a four shift system of 24 hours on and 3 days off, ( In which most of them worked their second job !) and each crew consisted of seven Firefighters. They had their mess room, front office, dorms, Fire safety Office with FP officers, lecture room, and their own version of the infamous Snooker room!
There was no hiding the fact that the equipment was old, their appliances and most of the equipment on them had hit the 20 year mark.
When it broke, it was a case for the duty watch to fix it but don’t spent any money because there isn’t much, and this was the same for the Station. There was enough to pay wages but that left little in the pot for anything else. Their PPE gave them protection from the water and would only offer very limited protection in a fire fighting environment.
These guys were no different to any in the UK, they were skilled and experienced Firefighters who attended the same type of jobs that we do, House fires, floods, small fires, RTAs, but the striking difference is that we have the fancy fire kit, and maybe the latest appliance carrying all our singing and dancing Hydraulic rescue equipment.
The Shipped Equipment was being stored at another station which meant a 6 hour drive to cover the 400 km round trip.
On return to the station the kit was unloaded, unfortunately the full quota of kit did not reach the N23 as the shipment was to supply two stations but en route the cases passed through the hands of a third station. (I guess Christmas came early for them this year) but there was just enough to cover the needs of Stn N23
The mornings of the first week was spent with the watches trying to cover all the areas of RTA, from casualty handling to space creation as well as trying to highlight the hazards to Firefighter regarding airbags etc.
Then the afternoons were utilised improvising and making RTA kit , like sawing lengths of wood into blocks for stabilisation, and making post covers from hose, as well as trying to cover the mornings input practically, which was extremely difficult when it came to space creation as there was no way of getting our hands on a complete car, so we had to make do with a completely stripped shell of a mini bus for three of the watches, and one watch did get the chance to try their hand at glass management when a stripped out coach turned up with the windscreen still in and the drivers door complete with glass. The crews seemed to take on board every thing that I explained as Igor (A Sub Officer from one of the watches) did a great job translating for me during my stay.
It was difficult to show the Combi tool to its full potential with the resources available but, I’m sure it will prove it’s worth the first time they use it in anger. It would have been nice to complete the set with a Ram to increase their rescue capabilities even more! Maybe you know how to help us out on that one?
Stowage was also an issue for them as locker space was already very limited on these appliances, but hopefully a very generous donation from a large local boarding school in the form of a second hand small 4×4 should resolve this.
The plan was to kit out the back of the 4×4 with all the RTA gear and this would be mobilised along with the appliance and the rest of the crew.
The second week was aimed at Fire Behaviour but the theory only, mainly because their branches were the same as our old AWG style.
So my aim was for them to understand the concepts of Fire Development, Flashovers and Back Draughts, and then to try and recognise the signs and symptoms, and for the crews to remember what safety measures can be used. Overall from the enthusiasm and feedback I was getting these guys took it all on board, and with some this had also answered a few questions gained from their own experiences.
The second week came and went very quickly, and I soon found myself saying my goodbyes to all at N23. I could not help thinking that this Station and all its Firefighters are a mirror image of ourselves in the UK, but with one major difference MONEY. Newer equipment would not only help these guys save more lives, but keep them safer while they were doing it. Let’s hope a second trip will be on the cards in the future.
Stratford Upon Avon