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Island firefighter’s Ukraine adventure 25 April 2007

Leading Firefighter Danny Dooley has spent two weeks in the Ukraine where he helped train local fire crews in essential procedures.

Danny, 44, went to the Ukraine with Carl Hunt, a Sub Officer from Humberside Fire and Rescue. Together they trained over 100 firefighters in Odessa and the Crimea on various aspects of breathing apparatus and road traffic collisions procedures.

The trip was arranged through Operation Florian. An international charity set up by firefighters and named after their patron saint. The charity encourages established fire services in the western world to give their time and surplus equipment to train and kit-out fire services in less developed countries.

Danny said:

‘We basically teach them how to look after themselves. Simple procedures such as search procedures have no real structure over there. It’s literally just a case of all in and this often results in firefighters getting injured.’

The trip was self-funded and Danny used his annual leave to be able to go. He said:

‘It’s so worthwhile. The firefighters out there don’t even have protective clothing, their uniforms are made from canvas. They are really grateful for the equipment and time we’re able to donate.’

The trip itself took 18 months to organise, mainly due to anticipated problems with getting equipment through customs at Kiev airport.

Danny recalls:

‘Even after all our preparations, the equipment still got held in customs when we first arrived at the airport. We had to engage in some discussion to get it released.’

Danny and Carl stopped in Odessa first for five days before moving onto the Crimea for a further five days. Danny remembers:

‘It’s a 16 hour train ride from Kiev to Odessa and an 18 hour ride to the Crimea.’

As well as the extreme travelling, they also had to combat the harsh weather.

‘It was so cold one night I actually had to put on my bobble hat and ski jacket to go to sleep, it was freezing!’

All their efforts didn’t go unappreciated. Danny and Carl were both awarded the top medal for firefighters by the president of the Ukraine Fire Service. Although Operation Florian has already done a lot to help the Ukraine fire service, there is still a long way to go.

Danny says:

‘One big problem with their service is the transport. Their trucks are old, one of them was 42 years old. On the Island, we get rid of trucks after 15 to 20 years. It’s quite hard for us to help with this as our vehicles are right-hand drive and they are left-hand drive in the Ukraine. They would also run into problems when the trucks need spare parts because they don’t have access to that kind of technology.’

As well as fire and rescue, the Ukraine fire service is also responsible for water rescue and bomb disposal. Danny added:

‘They don’t even have a boat! They are required to commandeer a fishing boat should they ever need to make a rescue. As for the bomb disposal, we have no idea who to approach for that kind of equipment. That is our next challenge.’

Danny Dooley and Bruce KirkhamDanny’s efforts have also been highly commended by his colleagues on the Island. Deputy Chief Fire Officer Bruce Kirkham (right in photo) said:

‘Danny has certainly had an amazing experience. Through his dedication to his own profession he has enthused, educated and enhanced the capability of Firefighters in the Ukraine, which will undoubtedly ensure that they will be able to perform their operational duties more safely and effectively.
‘Ultimately he has made a major contribution to community safety in general which will impact upon the lives of the local population. His actions have forged links which we hope will be developed further in future to assist in the development of their fire and rescue service and we are justifiably proud of his efforts.’

Minister for Home Affairs, Hon Martyn Quayle, MHK commented:

‘Leading Firefighter Danny Dooley is to be congratulated for his initiative, commitment and extremely valuable work which has been so beneficial to the people of the Ukraine.’

Danny is currently a community safety officer at the Fire Service Headquarters. His job involves working with school children at both primary and secondary level as well as general community fire safety issues and attending fire calls. He is also the regional secretary of the benevolent fund, a national fire service charity.

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